24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JONES presented a petition from certain pensioners of New South Wales praying that the funeral benefit for the burial of pensioners be increased to £30.
Petition received and read.
Mr. GRIFFITHS presented a petition from certain citizens of New South Wales praying that the use of the area known as the Bombing Range at Anna Bay for Air Force bombing and Army gunfire be discontinued forthwith, and that the range be shifted to the area known as Uralla, or to Salt Ash, or one of the islands off the coast.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that some years ago, as a result of a military blunder, a tragedy occurred in the Stockton Bight resulting in three or four national servicemen losing their lives and many others suffering from immersion and exposure? Did the New South Wales Supreme Court subsequently rule that continuing compensation should be paid to those who had contracted chronic illnesses as a result of their experience? To how many persons has compensation been paid? Is it true that a compensation claim by a Mr. Lee, amounting to some hundreds of pounds, has been held up indefinitely because the Treasury refuses to pay up? Will the Minister confer with the Treasurer to ascertain why federal authorities refuse to accept the decision of the court, and will he see that my constituent receives prompt payment, thus putting an end to all the procrastination that is taking place in regard to this very sad affair?
– To answer the honorable member’s question will entail a considerable amount of detailed work. I shall at once inquire into these matters and let the honorable member know the result of my inquiries.
– My question, which is addressed to the Postmaster-General, refers to the annoyance experienced by the recipient -who pays for a collect telegram only to find that the information in it is unrelated to him and of no interest to him. Is the honorable gentleman aware that batches of telegrams containing racing tips are lodged in Melbourne as collect telegrams for despatch to States as far distant as Western Australia? What steps are taken in post offices to check on firms despatching a quantity of collect telegrams? Is it possible for charges on unwanted telegrams of this kind to be reversed to the sender, and for protection against unnecessary expense to be given to the unsuspecting addressees?
– I am aware that batches of collect telegrams are sent from time to time. Some of these may have a bearing on bookmaking, but many of them are sent by firms in the normal course of business. The procedure is quite legal and is within the regulations of the Post Office. It is also within the various State laws, when the telegrams are sent interstate. For the information of the honorable member for Swan, I state that the Post Office has no power to refuse to accept any telegrams that are offered to it unless they contain blasphemous or obscene matter. It is permissible for these telegrams to be sent in code, and this practice also is very often adopted by business instrumentalities.
If the sender of a batch of collect telegrams is not known to the postal officer receiving them, the sender is required to lodge a deposit, which is estimated as being sufficient to cover any collect telegrams that the addressees will not accept. If the sender is known, he is required to give an undertaking that he will pay the total cost of any telegrams not accepted. If the person to whom a collect telegram is addressed refuses to accept it, the sender of the telegram is required to pay the full charge. If the person to whom the telegram is addressed does accept it, there is no action that we at present can take to refund the charge to him. I should think that if a recipient were caught once in this way he would on future occasions simply refuse to accept such telegrams.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. Can he tell us the extent to which aid is given to denominational and missionary schools in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
– The policy of the Government is to give substantial financial aid to mission schools which reach the required standards of efficiency. Part of our endeavour over recent years has been to raise the standard of mission schools. We do this by giving financial aid only to those schools at which the teachers arc qualified, and at which the teaching meets the requirements of the departmental curriculum. In those instances, we give a subsidy which is based on the number of qualified teachers. I will ascertain for the honorable member the total sum that is spent each year in this way. It is in the region of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– I address my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Was the Explosives Act, under which are issued safety regulations governing the carriage of explosives by sea, amended in October, 1961? Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a catastrophe in West Bromwich, in the United Kingdom, in February of this year in which 33 people were injured, seven families were rendered homeless and £100,000 worth of damage was caused by the explosion of a lorry-load of chemicals? I ask the Minister whether there is any act which provides for safety regulations covering the carriage of chemicals or explosives by land or air in Australia. If there is no such act, will the Minister consider introducing appropriate legislation?
– My recollection of the accident in the United Kingdom to which the honorable member refers is based on the newspaper reports which reached
Australia. I believe that there was a singular act of heroism by the driver concerned. In that instance, dangerous chemicals were being transported. At the present time, there are in Australia no comprehensive State or Commonwealth acts covering the carriage of dangerous commercial chemicals, but the Australian Transport Advisory Council has established a CommonwealthState committee which is investigating the matter. I assure the honorable member that after that committee reports and gives its advice, suitable legislation will be drafted and introduced. The Explosives Act, which was suitably amended recently, provides for adequate regulations covering the transport of dangerous defence explosives. The States have quite adequate legislation covering the transport of commercial explosives. The honorable member may rest assured that the question of the transport of dangerous commercial chemicals is at present under investigation by a special committee.
– I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. Has his attention been directed to an allegation by Sir Frank Packer that the Melbourne “Herald” group, headed by Sir John Williams, a friend of the Prime Minister, has been given three commercial television licences, whereas the law stipulates two as a maximum for a newspaper group? If this allegation is correct, will the PostmasterGeneral take action to cancel the holding of the Melbourne “Herald” in station HSV-7 immediately and re-allocate it to non-newspaper interests?
– I have seen in the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” some statements dealing with the question of television licences, but not statements of the nature mentioned by the honorable member. No doubt the Leader of the Opposition knows exactly what is referred to. Any statement that a licensee controls more than two television licences is not correct.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. I ask: Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a report in the Sydney “Daily Mirror” of 11th April concerning Royal Australian Air Force exercises in the Port Stephens area? If the Minister’s attention has been directed to this newspaper report, has he any information to give the House about the matters referred to in the report?
– The background to the honorable member’s question is that the Royal Australian Air Force, for the past twenty years, has been occupying and using a range at Morna Point just north of Newcastle. In the course of those twenty years, a number of people have moved into the area, knowing the circumstances and knowing the use that the Air Force has been making of the range. No doubt, because of this use, in many instances their land was bought more cheaply. Recently, there has been a systematic, organized campaign to eject the Air Force from this range. It is difficult to understand the report to which the honorable member refers, because the last occasion on which the Air Force used the range was 15th February. If any cannon shells had been fired through the walls of people’s homes, or if anything else of that kind had occurred, immediate and bitter complaints would undoubtedly have been made to the Air Force authorities. The only specific happening of that kind known to the Air Force occurred about eighteen months ago, when a bomb was exploded and a small piece of shrapnel travelled about four or five miles and landed in the scrub not far from somebody’s garage.
A systematic campaign is being conducted, which is characterized by gross exaggeration and misrepresentation, and which shows that those conducting the campaign have no regard for the paramount need to keep the fighting forces of this country efficient. It is true, Sir, that the Morna Point range is unsatisfactory in many respects from the Air Force viewpoint. The Air Force has been searching for some time for a satisfactory alternative site, and if and when one can be found no doubt arrangements will be made to use it. In the meantime, however, the Morna Point range remains an essential practice range for one of the most important sections of our Air Force.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. The honorable gentleman will recall that in his news release on the employment situation last month he revealed that more than 17,000 school leavers throughout Australia still remained without employment at 2nd March, 1962. Will he ensure that the bulletin on the employment situation to be made available next Monday will give information about the employment of school leavers, not only throughout Australia as a whole, but also in each particular State?
– I am sure the House will be delighted to know that when the figures are finally compiled they will probably show that there has been a large reduction in the numbers of school leavers still registered with the Department of Labour and National Service as unemployed. I have not the final figures yet, but I have kept in touch with the position concerning school leavers. The Commonwealth Employment Service is doing an excellent job in placing them in employment, and I am sure the honorable member for Bowman will be one of those who will be very pleased when the figures arereleased. I have not yet had a full report on the matter from my department, but I will most certainly speak to officers of the department to-day, and if they have not made some arrangements to give information about school leavers in their report I will see that they do so.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral yet received from the AttorneyGeneral of Victoria the report of Inspector Hill on alleged irregular practices in the Post Office in Victoria? If so, can he tell the House whether any further action may now be taken on this matter? When will he be able to make a further statement to the House?
– The report on the inquiry recently conducted by Inspector Hill in Melbourne reached my office yesterday at about mid-day. I have had an opportunity since then to peruse the report, and I intend to discuss the matter with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet as soon as possible so that a decision may be made on what further action, if any, should be taken. I cannot tell the honorable member exactly when that decision will be made, but I will certainly try to ensure that no undue delay occurs.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I preface it by saying that before legislation was passed in this Parliament to provide for long service leave for waterside workers, in June, 1961, provisions existed for the withholding of attendance money and for the suspension of waterside workers for engaging in concerted action. Is the Minister aware that the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended June, 1961, revealed that 2,511 watersid’e workers were suspended for engaging in concerted action whereas 153,755 men were involved in concerted action and were restored to the roster without penalty? Is it a fact that this Government, by the introduction of the additional penal clauses of June, 1961, now proposes to deal with all concerted action by waterside workers under section 52a, whether a shortage of labour exists or not? If so, does this not mean that the Government, in an attempt to outlaw the right to strike-
– Order! The honorable member is now making comment.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes will remain silent. I ask the honorable member for Petrie now to direct his question to the Minister.
– The saving would be at least £1,000,000 a year-
– Order! The honorable member must direct his question to the Minister.
– Is it not a fact that the Government now proposes to finance the long service leave provisions by an accumulation of fines-
– Order! The honorable member is now out of order. He will resume his seat.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. With all due respect, the honorable member for Petrie was asking the Minister whether it is a fact that the Government proposes to finance its long service leave provisions out of the fines it is imposing on the waterside workers. Surely that is in order.
– Order! I warned the honorable member twice and asked him to direct his question to the Minister, but he persisted in giving information and interpreting that information. Therefore he was out of order.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer in his capacity as Leader of the House. I understand that the Opposition this morning is to sponsor a debate relating to constitutional review. While appreciating the significance of such a review, I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that consideration of that matter will prevent the House considering to-day the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Chisholm-
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Surely a question relating to a proposal from this side of the House is not within the province of the Treasurer.
– Order! The question is being directed to the Leader of the House.
– Is it a fact that consideration of that matter will prevent the House considering to-day the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Chisholm, which relates to defence? Is the right honorable gentleman in a position to say whether the Opposition has expressed any opinion to him that it wishes to participate in the debate on the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Chisholm?
– It is a fact that this morning would normally have been devoted to motions standing in the names of private members under the heading of “General Business “. As the House is aware, it is the practice under the Standing Orders for the morning of Thursday each week to be set aside for Grievance Day, as we call it, and alternately, general business - motions or bills put forward by private members. I have on more than one occasion pointed out to the spokesmen for the Opposition that the proposing of subjects for discussion as matters of urgent public importance on either of these mornings has the effect of depriving private members of their opportunities to raise matters in this place. I have reminded members of the Opposition that they protest vigorously against any action on the part of the Government which in their view restricts the rights of private members. 1 have further protested, Sir, that whereas Opposition spokesmen insist that measures brought forward by the Government shall not be called on until the Opposition has had opportunity to discuss them in caucus, repeatedly - and particularly in this session - the Government is asked by the Opposition to consider and debate in this place matters upon which we have had no reasonable opportunity to confer with our colleagues in our own party room. The subject-matter which the Opposition proposes for discussion has no greater urgency now than it had when the session began, and it was not proposed at that point of time to put it on the notice-paper. The action taken to-day violates three accepted canons. It deprives private members of their opportunity to deal with various matters, and it prevents the Government from giving them adequate consideration and from having consultation with its supporters; and I repeat that it shows scant regard for the principles and practices which normally apply in this place.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he is aware that members of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia have claimed to be in touch with military intelligence in their recent investigations into communism. Also, is he aware that the president of the Healesville Hospital in Victoria stated on oath that a top authority had supplied names of people of Communist influence, and that he wrote the name of this top authority on a piece of paper and gave it to the magistrate? Will he inquire into these matters, and in particular will he discover the name of the top authority whose name the witness wrote on a piece of paper and gave to the magistrate? Will he ascertain whether any improper practices have, occurred in the release of official information to any of the increasing number of amateur cloakanddagger people who now inhabit this country?
– In the first place, there has been no increase in the number of what the honorable member is pleased to call cloak-and-dagger people, but I understand his dislike for them. These men are engaged in protecting the security of this country, and it does not surprise me that the honorable member chooses to denigrate them. Secondly, there is always a good deal of confusion in this field. Each State police force has a special division, and very often I see in the press that these State police officers are referred to as security officers. They have nothing whatever to do with the Commonwealth, and whatever they do with their own information is, of course, their own business. I most certainly will inquire to find out whether any officer under my control went beyond the rights he has, and gave any information. I should be very surprised if he did, because I know that these officers are scrupulous in their conduct.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question relating to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, and I preface my question by referring to a recommendation I made during the course of the debate on the legislation to amend that act last October, when I suggested that all recipients of such pensions who had retired between 1948 and 1959, consequent upon a change in government policy, should have their pensions increased to the 1959 rate upon their attaining 60 years of age. I now ask the Treasurer whether he will earnestly consider giving effect to this limited recompense for the disadvantages they have suffered due to the reduction in retirement ages which was effected in 1948.
– The amending legislation passed last year increased pensions granted under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act before 10th December, 1954, by bringing the Consolidated Revenue component of the pension up to the level which would have applied had the pension commenced on that date. That was the limit of the adjustment which could be made within the funds available. I assure the honorable gentleman that consideration will be given, before the introduction of the next Budget, to the position of pensioners to whom he has referred.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that the recently enacted stevedoring industry legislation will penalize waterside workers who go on strike, to the extent of four days’ attendance money for each day on strike. As the sum concerned is now approximately £150,000, does this relieve the Government to that extent, of its statutory obligation to pay for long service leave?
– I think that the honorable member for Petrie has a good knowledge of the working of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and also of the act itself. He should know that his allegations are wrong and that his conclusions are false. The simple truth is that the money received by the Stevedoring Industry Authority to pay for long service leave is collected by means of a levy on the shipowners. Once that money is received it is for the authority to pay it out. Fines are paid into Consolidated Revenue, not to the Stevedoring Industry Authority. There is no connexion whatsoever between the two kinds of payments. So, there is no question of the Government being relieved of the necessity to meet long service leave payments. These have to be made by the Stevedoring Industry Authority and not by the Government. The suspension of attendance money represents a penalty imposed on waterside workers when they are pulled out on strike by the foolish actions of their leaders. I know that the strike which occurred yesterday, in the absence of Mr. Fitzgibbon from New South Wales, was called by Mr. Nelson, the Sydney branch leader. I have grave doubts whether it met with the approval of the full executive of the Waterside Workers Federation itself. I know that it certainly did not have the prior approval of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Primary Industry by saying that it has been suggested in some quarters that Sir William Gunn receives a very considerable salary for his services to the Australian Wool Bureau. Can the Minister inform the House whether this suggestion is correct?
– I understand that when the Australian Wool Bureau meets, Sir William Gunn, as chairman, receives eight guineas a day for each sitting day. When he is on Wool Bureau business, as decided by the Wool Bureau itself, he receives as well a travelling allowance consistent with the statutory allowance for members of marketing organizations. It is six guineas a day. Sir William Gunn receives no salary as chairman of the Wool Bureau.
– I preface a question to the Prime Minister by recalling that on 8th March, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Isaacs, the Prime Minister said that he would be delighted to give whatever information and assistance he could to the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in its announced campaign against communism. As one who abhors the Communist philosophy I ask whether the league has asked the Government for information and assistance. If it has, will the Prime Minister tell the House the nature of the assistance given and the information disseminated to the league?
– I will be very happy to find out the facts and convey them to the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether he has considered the value of visits to Australia and other places outside the Territory of Papua and New Guinea by men and women of that Territory to assist in their advancement. If so, “have such visits taken place, when have they taken place, and for what purposes?
– It has been our practice in Papua and New Guinea for some time to arrange visits to Australia both for the purpose of conferences or studies and for activities arranged by the Administration and the Government. Our object is also to co-operate with private and Church bodies, co-operative organizations and so on in conferences- that they might arrange. These visits have become more frequent, and between 200 and 300 persons come to Australia each year under arrangements of this kind. Among those who come to Australia are persons who wish to attend such meetings as the South Pacific Commission conference, conferences organized by Church bodies or such as that arranged by the Pan-Pacific and South-East Asia Women’s Association.
Some of these visitors come to Australia on conducted educational tours to broaden their experience. Others come to Australia for special courses of study or to attend special gatherings. For example, at the Sydney show next week, two or three of our officers will be on duty at the special exhibit and will also have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with many aspects of Australian life. The broad purpose of these visits is to extend the education of those concerned in an orderly way by giving them a familiarity with a wider world. The duration of the visits varies from a matter of a few weeks to three or four years in the case of formal studies.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I wish to refer to repeated statements by the Minister for Labour and National Service that there is a serious shortage of skilled tradesmen and that there is a need to train additional tradesmen and technicians. Will the Treasurer assist this drive for more tradesmen by amending the taxation legislation to permit persons attending technical colleges or other approved places of learning to claim any costs incurred such as fees, the purchase of tools, books and other accessories, as tax deductions, bearing in mind that technical training is compulsory for all apprentices and trainees, and that if they fail to attend, their contract of training will be terminated? Is it true that when students are wholly dependent on their parents, these expenses can be claimed by the parents? If so, why cannot this prin ciple be extended to self-education when it is a condition of employment?
– I shall examine the suggestion made by the honorable gentleman and see that it receives consideration in relation to our general budgetary discussions.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Territories supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Perth. In the interests of producing a more civic-minded community in New Guinea as soon as possible, will the Minister consider an offer made by the past president of the New South Wales Local Government Clerks Association, who is now the town clerk of Campbelltown, to advise and assist with the work of training the New Guinea people in local government?
– On this matter, as on all matters of a similar kind, we welcome the co-operation of bodies in Australia such as the honorable member has mentioned, in helping us to do the work we are trying to do in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I might mention for the information of the honorable gentleman that the Native Affairs Department of Papua and New Guinea does conduct regular courses in the training of local government clerks and assistants. Whenever a native local government council is formed, it is staffed, and the staff is paid by the indigenous people. If it is possible to find a bright boy from the village, one with the basic education, he will be taken to the centra] training institution at Port Moresby and given a two-years’ course to fit him to go back to his own people as a fully qualified local government clerk. In addition to that there are, of course, boys who, having acquired their preliminary education, take up local government as a career in much the same way as people do in Australia. They will also pass through the school, be trained as local government clerks and local government assistants, and take up an appointment wherever there happens to be a vacancy; but by and large we do try to get village people who form a council to pick one of their own bright, upandcoming boys for training, so that he can go back and serve his own people.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question without notice. In the press of 9th April there appeared an announcement in a television guide section which related to Channel ABN-2. The announcement read -
On Wednesday, April 18, at 9.30 p.m. the controversial 45-minute B.B.C. Rock *n’ Roll version of the Passion play “A MAN DIES” will be shown.
On Good Friday a follow-up to this play “ A MAN DIES- SO WHAT?” will be presented at 6.30 p.m. from Melbourne.
In view of the fact that this B.B.C. telecast in London gave rise to a great deal of criticism and was regarded by most people in Great Britain as a blasphemous rock ‘n’ roll show which took the events of Good Friday as a basis, will the PostmasterGeneral have the matter investigated so that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will not be subjected to the same criticism here, and so that the people of Australia will be saved from having this item put over a national station?
– I have not seen the announcement referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, but I shall certainly inquire into the matter and see exactly what is the position.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has Cabinet yet officially considered the recent report on the Australian wool industry? Does the Minister know whether the woolgrowers’ organizations have reached any final conclusions on the report? If so, has any official communication on these conclusions been sent to the Minister by the wool-growers’ organizations or any of their various affiliated bodies?
– Cabinet has not officially considered the full findings of the committee of inquiry into the wool industry. We decided to release the report as soon as it was available to us so that the organizations could have a good look at it. My information is that the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council will be having its annual conference in June next when, no doubt, full consideration will be given to this matter. I am under the impression that the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation met in Melbourne last week, but I have had no communication from it, and I do not even know whether it had this matter on its agenda or considered it. No doubt it did give the matter some consideration. I have been told that there have been some preliminary discussions at executive level between the council and the federation. I should hope, Mr. Speaker, that those organizations will confer on this very important matter affecting the wool industry in order to see whether they agree or disagree. I am sure that the Cabinet will benefit from any representations that they might make when it is ready for full consideration of this matter. I am a bit concerned that affiliated bodies of the federation are voicing opinions on the matter. It would be far better if the industry made a unanimous approach, or tried to get agreement so as to make representations from the industry as a whole. Affiliated bodies expressing disagreement among themselves cannot make the right approach in a matter that must concern their future livelihood. I repeat, Mr. Speaker, that the Government will be pleased to receive representations at any time that the major organizations are prepared to submit them.
– I ask the Treasurer, as Leader of the House: Is he aware that one of the most cherished traditions of the Parliament is freedom of speech? Also is he aware that, due to the ruthless actions of the Government in the House, under his direction, and to the manipulation of standing orders, the rights of private members in this Parliament are rapidly disappearing? In view of the grave concern among members of the Opposition over this infringement of the rights of private members, will the right honorable gentleman state what arrangements, if any, he has entered into - and broken - with the Opposition on the conduct of the business of the House, and will he indicate his reasons for the indiscriminate use of the gag on adjournment and other debates?
– This question, which is, of course, one of some importance, comes very oddly from the honorable member for Grayndler. I think that all members of this House who have observed his conduct in this place since the session began will agree that if there is anybody who has abused the processes of the House more than anybody else it is . the honorable member for Grayndler. I have already answered a question to-day from the Government side of the House which referred to the manner in which opportunities for discussion by private members have been grossly truncated by the actions of honorable gentlemen of the Opposition acting in their official capacities and otherwise. Now, Sir, I would first of all assert on the basis of the facts of the matter - and I challenge any gentleman opposite to contest this statement - that in all the years that I have been in this Parliament I have not known one sessional period in which more opportunity has been given for discussion by private members than has been given since the Twentyfourth Parliament began its existence. I invite any one to contest that statement.
Now to the second point. The honorable gentleman asks what arrangements exist between the Government and spokesmen for the Opposition. I preface my reply to that by saying that I think it eminently desirable and, indeed, necessary, in a Parliament of more than 120 members, with a heavy programme of business in the national interest to be transacted, that there should be some room for arrangements which can be adhered to as closely as practicable between the Government and the Opposition. That situation existed very largely in previous parliaments when the present Leader of the Opposition was Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I intend no criticism of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when I say that it has been my experience that he is not in a situation to make an arrangement as between the Opposition and the Government, that he has no authority from his caucus to enter into any firm arrangement with the Government. When I am asked what arrangements have been made, I say that there has been at no time any basis for any firm arrangement between the Government and the Opposition. I would, Sir, most certainly welcome the Opposition’s giving the necessary authority which the present Leader of the Opposition claimed for himself when he was Deputy Leader of the Opposition, so that the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition may conduct discussions with me on the same basis as did the previous Deputy Leader of the Opposition. If that were done I am sure our business would be carried on much more satisfactorily.
– I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker.
– Order! The honorable member will have to obtain leave to make a statement. He has not so far spoken.
– I have been misrepresented by the Leader of the House.
– Order! It will be necessary for the honorable gentleman to obtain leave, since he has not already spoken.
– In view of the reply given by the Treasurer to the honorable member for Grayndler I wish to make quite plain what I consider and wish to be my role in negotiating with the right honorable gentleman concerning the business of the House. Sir, I have never sought, and would not want, authority to truncate the opportunities for debate available to private members, and accordingly Opposition members who, ipso facto, are all private members of this chamber. My role in negotiating with the right honorable gentleman is to get the best use of the time that he proposes to make available. I refuse to negotiate with him on shortening the sittings, but I will negotiate with him concerning the best use of the time that he says is available.
– by leave - During recent weeks I have, on behalf of the Government, engaged in discussions with the Reserve Bank of Australia and representatives of the major trading banks on a number of matters affecting the Australian trading banks. These consultations began when, on 30th January last, the Economic Policy Committee of Cabinet met representatives of the trading banks and talked with them on the general economic problems of Australia - as it had talked, in a series of other meetings about that time, with leading people from other branches of finance and trade and industry and the trade unions.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his statement of 7th February on the national economy, referred to the further discussions I was to hold with the banks and he emphasized, in particular, that the Government wanted the banks to be able to play an increasingly important role in our progress. I think I may very well cite that as having been, on both sides, the ruling purpose of the discussions we have had together and as the hallmark of the new arrangements agreed between us, which 1 shall now describe.
The banks put to us at our first meeting their belief that they both could and should play a wider and. more constructive part in the growth of our country and the expansion of its trade abroad. At the same time they said frankly that they felt they were being denied a chance to develop their facilities as they wished by certain features of the arrangements currently in force to control interest rates, the volume of credit and the investment of their funds. In saying this, they did not in any way dispute the need for an overall control of banking operations in pursuance of national monetary policy.
The Government welcomed the expressed desire of the trading banks to extend their activities and, in particular, to embark upon some new forms of lending to various branches of industry and trade. We have been aware for some time of a growing need for a new type of bank lending to meet developmental requirements, especially of rural industry. Such lending would have to be for moderately long terms and also for fixed terms, and neither of these requirements is adequately served by the overdraft system which has hitherto been the typical and predominant form of bank finance in Australia.
The Government has also recognized the need for some wider facilities in export finance. More and more, as our business people pursue their efforts to sell manufactured products in new markets overseas, they find themselves up against the competition of sellers from other countries who are in a position to offer credit terms - in some cases quite long credit terms. From a national standpoint there are objections to building up a large body of long-term export credits. It amounts, in effect, to a capital outflow from Australia for the period of the credit whereas our needs are rather for an increasing capital inflow. Yet the fact has to be faced. If we are to build up overseas markets for our manufactures then we must be in a position to offer the potential buyers some reasonable facilities for credit.
Export finance is necessarily and properly the business of the trading banks. They have long been engaged in financing exports, though hitherto mainly on a short term basis. They have the expert knowledge and the world-wide connexions required for carrying it on. However, the banks told us that, if they were to carry longer fixed-term finance in either the domestic or the export field, they would need to be assured of having the necessary liquid resources for doing so. lt would be a different class of business from their ordinary overdraft lending where their funds can be turned over within relatively short periods.
This view of theirs is, without doubt, well-founded and, if our industries are to have access to the kind of finance experience is showing them to require, the position of the banks in this matter has to be met. At the same time the Government has to be sure that whatever arrangements are made do not impair seriously its power to control the general credit situation. With these two major considerations in view it has been possible to work out, by agreement between the Government, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the major trading banks, a set of arrangements which I believe will meet the position.
By way of providing a body of resources on which the trading banks can operate in these new fields a special term lending fund is to be established with the Reserve Bank. It will comprise accounts held with the Reserve Bank by the trading banks. These will amount to 3 per cent, of each bank’s deposits. Of this, 1 per cent, will be provided from the existing liquid assets and government securities of the banks and 2 per cent, will be transferred from their statutory reserve deposit accounts. These new accounts will represent revolving funds for term-lending purposes, and the total of the accounts will be approximately £55,000,000. The purpose of establishing this fund is to permit the new lending facilities to be developed steadily over the next few years in accordance with current credit policy. The unused part of each bank’s account will earn interest initially at a rate of 3) per cent.
I may mention here that concurrently the Reserve Bank has agreed with the trading banks that the convention regarding the minimum ratio of liquid assets and government securities of each bank to its deposits, which has been in force for some years, will be raised from 16 per cent, to 18 per cent.
As to the scope of term lending, it is envisaged that loans will not be made for consumption expenditure but for capital expenditure for production, broadly defined, in the rural and secondary industries, for the financing of exports and, to a lesser extent, in commercial fields.
As examples of typical purposes for term loans, I may say that, in rural industry, it is contemplated that loans will be made for the purchase of land for development, for heavy equipment, for buildings and fencing, for land clearing, pasture development and herd improvement. In secondary industry, factory extensions, plant and machinery, special reserve stocks, and the financing of contracts illustrate the sort of purposes we have in view. As to export finance, loans will be generally for capital goods and, in some cases, for activities associated with the supply of capital goods, such as installation costs, where the installation of heavy equipment may be a sizeable item. In the area of commerce, as I have said, it is not intended to finance consumption expenditure. However, it is possible that appropriate cases for term lending will be found in service industries.
Usually loans will be made for fixed periods and will be amortized by regular instalments. Some departures from this practice may perhaps be found necessary, as, for example, in the case of rural loans which do not produce income in the early stages. As a general rule, loans will be for not less than three years and the range will be generally from three to eight years, or possibly a little longer.
No fixed ceiling will be set on the size of individual loans. Some loans for export finance may have to be substantial in amount, but, so that the needs of small business may be given full support, it is not considered that other classes of loans will be for very large amounts. With regard to interest rates on these loans, it is intended that the broad pattern will be consistent with overall interest rate policy as determined from time to time, and the trading banks will keep the Reserve Bank informed about rates being charged. The Reserve Bank will, of course, be able to follow the course of movements in interest rates from the detailed statistics regularly supplied to it by the trading banks.
These, then, are the main elements in the term-lending arrangements. It will be seen at once that they make very substantial resources available for this necessary class of finance and they will do this without subtracting from the capacity of the banks to carry on their other forms of lending. I am confident that they will satisfactorily meet requirements in the new context of development in Australia and of our trading relations with the world abroad.
I turn now to the subject of bank interest rates generally. The trading banks maintained that current arrangements for the control of their lending rates were much too rigid. In particular, they considered that the requirement for each bank to observe maximum average overdraft rates was hampering necessary adjustments of rates as between individual borrowers and between classes of borrowers. It was also imposing upon them great administrative inconvenience and considerable cost. We had sufficient evidence to convince us that there was great force in these contentions on the part of the banks. At the same time, it was our desire to ensure that any alternative arrangements should provide an effective mechanism for the control of bank lending rates in the general interest of the economy.
After discussion with the banks on various alternative procedures, we have reached agreement with them on the following lines: -
Perhaps I may elaborate a little on the procedure by which bank lending rates will in future be regulated. Within the maximum or ceiling established for overdraft rates, the hanks will normally be free to adjust rates for individual borrowers and classes of borrowers. They will, however, keep the Reserve Bank informed by means of periodic statistical returns as to rates charged on various classes of borrowings and will consult from time to time with the Reserve Bank as to the trend of these rates. If, on occasion, it is desired to bring about a more or less general change in bank lending rates, the declared maximum rate will be moved upwards or downwards and the majority of existing rates currently payable will move upwards or downwards with it. However, they might not all move to exactly the same extent and some might not move at all. This could be the product of discussion between the Reserve Bank and the trading banks, the Reserve Bank being kept closely informed of the Government’s policy requirements.
Adjustments to deposit rates paid by the banks has in the past usually been the subject of consultations between the Reserve Bank and the trading banks, and this procedure will be continued. There will be an immediate reduction of one-quarter of 1 per cent, in rates of interest on fixed deposits. That is to say, rates on twelvemonths deposits will be reduced from 4i per cent, to 4 per cent, and rates on deposits for shorter periods down to three months will be reduced from 4 per cent. to 3J per cent. There will not be any change in the rates currently paid on savings bank deposits.
We also had discussions with the trading banks on the facilities available to them for the investment of their liquid funds. They have been informed that the Government has in view the issue, on a continuous basis throughout the year, of a new form of short-term security to be called treasurynotes. These will be three-months securities, like the present seasonal treasury-notes, and they will carry market rates of interest. As and when they are issued, the trading banks will have the same access to them as the general public. However, certain aspects of this innovation, especially those relating to the terms on which treasurynotes will be issued, are receiving the attention of the Australian Loan Council.
As our economy grows and the activities within it take on new and more varied forms, the financial mechanism which serves it must likewise grow in range, diversity and specialization. Recent years have seen numerous innovations in Australian financial practice and the arrangements I have just described are a further step in that direction. The Government believes that these arrangements, and especially those relating to term-lending facilities, break new and important ground in the development of techniques for the financing of national growth. It will now be possible for the trading banks to extend the scope of their facilities and services in new and valuable ways, and to have greater flexibility in the conduct of their business. At the same time their operations will remain subject to the overall responsibility of the Government and the Reserve Bank to control the credit situation and the terms on which credit is made available to the economy.
I lay on the table the following paper:-
Trading Bank Facilities and Arrangements - Ministerial Statement - and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 1st May, at 2.30 p.m.
– Such an amendment would be out of order.
– Then I shall not persist with it.
– What is your proposal?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has moved that the House, at its rising, adjourn until 1st May. I wanted to move for the addition to the motion of the words “ and shall continue to sit until 31st May “. Mr. Speaker has said that I would not be in order in moving such an amendment. However, I would like to have an assurance by the Government that the Parliament will continue to sit until 31st May.
– Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has asked me to give some assurance about continuing the sitting of the Parliament to a certain date. I am, of course, always available to discuss with Opposition members their views about sittings times and matters associated with the business of the House. The honorable gentleman knows, of course, that during the last eight days or so we have allowed discussions of three matters proposed by members of the Opposition, ostensibly on the ground of urgency and public importance. This has, of course, disrupted the conduct of government business. So, Sir, the matter is not entirely in the hands of the Government. However, consistently with the need to carry on the business of the nation, the Government has done all that has been reasonably practicable to ensure that this Parliament has opportunities for discussion of legislation and matters of public importance, and that representative viewpoints, whether they come from the Opposition or from minority elements in the Parliament, are freely expressed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have received a letter from the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The Government’s failure to submit to the electors any of the recommendations, and to prepare drafts of most of the recommendations, of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review which was appointed in 1956 and which reported in 1958 and 1959.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– Mr. Speaker, I direct attention to the state of the House.
-Order! This is a very serious position. The Leader of the Opposition has directed attention to the state of the House, and I find that a quorum is already present. It is a delicate position. I think the forms of the House are being abused, and I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that it may be appropriate for him to offer some form of apology for the slight error that he has made.
- Mr. Speaker, I do not think I should have to apologize for an error. I looked around and I could not see the required number of members. That is all I did. I did not think that you were following what I regard as a ridiculous ruling by a previous Speaker. If a man makes an honest mistake there should be no need for an apology, but if you want an apology I will give you one.
– You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
– You ought to be ashamed of yourself, and the Government ought to be ashamed to have you as a Minister.
– Order! I must ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw that remark.
– Well, I was insulted.
– I withdraw it.
– Order! I must ask the Leader of the Opposition not to argue with the Chair. I ask him to withdraw-
– I withdraw the remark.
– The Leader of the Opposition has made a remark which I ask him to withdraw.
– I withdraw it for the third time, and I now ask that the Minister be directed to withdraw his remark that I should be ashamed of myself. I was attacked, and I think I am entitled to a withdrawal of the remark. Do you rule, Mr. Speaker, that I am not entitled to a withdrawal?
– No. I think the position is that somebody said the Leader of the Opposition was caught out. I do not think that is unparliamentary.
– The Minister said that I ought to be ashamed of myself for .calling for a quorum. That was after I apologized. 1 ask for a withdrawal of that remark.
– Order! I am afraid I cannot agree. I think we will get on much better with the business of the House if honorable members remain silent and comply with the Standing Orders. The position is that the Leader of the Opposition has proposed a matter of urgent public importance for discussion, and I suggest that he proceed.
– I shall proceed, Mr. Speaker, under difficulty. The matter of urgent public importance that I wish to raise concerns the Government’s failure to submit to the electors any of the recommendations, and to prepare drafts of most of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, which was appointed in 1956, and which reported in 1958 and 1959. On 13th April of last year, I proposed a motion in this House in somewhat different terms. I moved -
That this House is of opinion that the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, which was established in 1956 and which reported to both Houses in 19S8 and 1959, should be submitted to the people for their approval.
I was followed in that debate by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). He made a ridiculous speech, as he generally does on constitutional matters in this Parliament, because he does not believe in constitutional reform. He is a State-righter of the late Victorian type. He tried to ridicule my motion on two grounds. First, he said he could hardly imagine a more impractical and foolish suggestion than to ask the House to express an opinion that the recommendations - all of them - should be submitted to the people for their approval. Well, the initial document setting out the proposed Constitution of Australia was submitted to the people 60-odd years ago as one document. Secondly, the Attorney-General said - and this was his next ridiculous statement - that it would be utter folly to submit the proposals to the people when no sections had been drafted and no provisions were ready for submission to referendum. If that were the position, then the responsibility was entirely that of the Government, and particularly of the Attorney-General himself. The committee was appointed, as I have said, in 1956. It reported in 1958, and it gave its reasons in 1959. Two years had elapsed from that time until the Attorney-General made his speech last year, and nothing had been done to prepare any draft for submission to the people.
When I propose this matter for discussion to-day I find that I will at least be able to overcome those two initial objections of the Attorney-General. I am able to emphasize in this debate the Government’s failure to submit to the electors any of the committee’s recommendations which since 25th November, 1959, have been in the hands of the Parliament, and I am able to point out that they were submitted to the Government in a form drafted by the Parliamentary Draftsman. The committee consisted of six Government representatives and six Opposition representatives.
Four of the twelve members of the committee were from the Senate and eight from the House of Representatives. They all took a hand in helping to prepare the form of the recommendations, to which the Parliamentary Draftsman eventually gave effect. To-day I direct attention to the Government’s failure to make available the services of the Parliamentary Draftsman to draft the remaining recommendations in the 28i months that have elapsed since the Government first received the committee’s recommendations.
The Government, I find, has drafted some proposals since the matter came before the Parliament last year. The committee’s recommendations that have already been drafted include all those relating to the relative sizes of the two Houses of the Parliament, disagreements between the two Houses, term ano? rotation of senators, the distribution of States into electoral divisions for this House and the counting of aborigines in determining the number of members of this House from each State. These are all matters which are immediately relevant to the redistribution which will occupy the attention of electoral commissioners for the next five or six months. Honorable members know, of course, that I am referring to the redistribution which will take place under the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act following the census of last year.
We have amended the electoral laws of this country and it seems that this is an appropriate time to at least break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives - the obligation under the Constitution which says that the House of Representatives shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the size of the Senate, We can only increase the size of the House of Representatives by first increasing the size of the Senate and nobody wants to do that. The quota for House of Representatives seats under this redistribution is 47,000 electors. As population increases both through migration and natural increase, so the quotas will rise. The recommendation of the committee was that the Senate should be fixed at 60 seats and that there should be a member in this Parliament for every 40,000 electors, arrived at by dividing Australia into electorates where 80,000 people resided. That would give about 40,000 electors. We think the Government should have done something about that.
We thing the Government should have provided for a joint sitting of both Houses of the Parliament. An amendment of the Constitution would provide for that, in addition to preserving the right of the Government to have a double dissolution if necessary. The Government in 1956, in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, when it announced the formation of the committee which sat for so long and did so well, but apparently did not impress the Government, was concerned with the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives. In his Speech on 15th February, 1956, with reference to the 1955 election, the Governor-General said -
The election has left my Government with a substantially larger majority in the House of Representatives but with a Senate in which the Government will by July not have a majority. This brings into sharp relief the very important constitutional problem of the relationship between the two Houses - the problem of producing a workable Parliament. The present position is that -any conflict between the two Houses can be resolved only by the slow, cumbrous and not very satisfactory procedure of a double dissolution such as occurred in 1951. My advisers believe that the relations between the two Houses should be reviewed. They are of the opinion that a Government requires a reasonable term of office and a reasonable period of stability in which it may give effect to its long-range plans for the nation. They will therefore propose the setting up of an allparty committee of both Houses to investigate the constitutional problems which may be referred to it. One of these problems is that of the Senate and its powers and the procedure to be followed in the event of a dispute between the two Houses. My advisers believe that such matters are not purely party matters. They can readily affect any party at any time in the future.
We believe that, and because of that we ask the Government to put to the people the solution unanimously agreed to by the Constitutional Review Committee. But I have no doubt that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who has been described as a parttime Attorney-General and a part-time Minister for External Affairs by one of his own colleagues, will say he has had no time to study the report of the committee. That may be true enough, in a way. He is Minister for External Affairs and he cannot attend to both the portfolio of External Affairs and his Attorney-Generalship and do justice to both. We want a full-time AttorneyGeneral who will take into account the work of the committee and do something to give this country a more modem constitution.
My colleagues who will follow me in the debate will deal with such matters as ought to be brought under the control of the Federal Parliament - which are under the control of nobody to-day - but are obviously only under our control because the High Court has been sensible enough to use its intelligence and rule that these are Commonwealth powers. Take wireless telegraphy, for instance. There is no provision in the Constitution for the control of wireless telegraphy. It was never thought of at the time of federation, but the High Court has ruled that it has something to do with the postal powers of the Commonwealth. We therefore exercise control over it, but it is a very tenuous control. The Commonwealth’s powers relating to television could be challenged in the High Court at any time, and if that court ever rules against Commonwealth control of television there will be a lot of trouble for a lot of people. There are also the questions on the control of nuclear energy and the control of all the latest scientific devices and discoveries. Aviation is another matter which ought to be under the control of the Commonwealth Parliament. Two governments of opposite political colours - the Lyons Government in 1936 and the Chifley Government in 1946 - both tried to get aviation powers for the Commonwealth and both failed. The same question was put on each occasion, and the people who were opposed to the Lyons Government in many cases recommended opposition to the proposal, just because it came from the Lyons Government. When the later proposal was put forward the political opponents of the government of that day campaigned against that proposal. It was all so foolish - or am I thinking of organized marketing? I think that was the subject on which there was a switch of allegiance. At last we have unanimity on many subjects and we think that quite apart from our own party political affiliations these matters ought to go to the people at the earliest possible moment.
We would like to see these matters go before the people as one proposal, but we of the Labour Party are authorized to say that we will support any body or section of these proposals, or even any one of them, if one can be put forward with the support of all parties in this Parliament. It is in that spirit that I move the resolution and urge the Government to prepare drafts of most of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, and let the people have their say while the opportunity still presents itself and while there is a good opportunity to do something worthwhile. Members of the Country Party have their own views on certain subjects, about which we reached unanimity, and they will want their proposals put forward. We had to agree to give ground on that committee, as between one party and another, in order to get unanimity. We do not want it all our own way. We are prepared to put up all the proposals and we will support on the platform everything we put our signatures to. We would like to see representatives of all other parties do the same thing. We do not want the proposals killed by State intervention. I have been reading lately about the diminution of State powers. That was inevitable in the course of history.
The minute the Commonwealth was born the colonies, which became States, started to die. Interpretations by the High Court have reduced the powers of the States. The uniform tax case is one instance. Another instance was the defence power which said that the Commonwealth could not only raise armies for the defence of the country but could also provide repatriation benefits, war service homes, and the like. All that interfered with the status of the States. Then there were the two major alterations - one put up by the Bruce-Page Government to set up the Australian Loan Council and the one by the Chifley Government to extend the welfare state. They all changed the relationship between the Commonwealth and the States, whether the people liked it or” not, and although people call themselves federalists and say the federal system is a good one - and I believe it is, too, and the march of events is against the States - I do not think you can have a unitary system in a continent. I believe that all power should be concentrated in and given to the Commonwealth. That would be the ideal situation, from my point of view, with certain powers then delegated to the Slates or provinces.
I realize that I will not get that in my lifetime, but the things which can be got and about which there is such unanimity are the recommendations contained in the document that was signed by the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), by the then member for Balaclava, now Mr. Justice Joske, by Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan, by Senator Wright, by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), by Mr. Hamilton, former member for Canning on the Government side, and by Senator McKenna, Senator Kennelly and the honorable members for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), Lalor (Mr. Pollard), Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) and myself on the Opposition side. I regard that committee as having been a representative committee, which gave a lot of time, spent a lot of energy and used a lot of thought in putting before this Parliament what it believed to be a worthwhile document. We hope the time has arrived when the committee’s recommendations will be implemented.
– We have this morning a very good example of how foolish is the myth that we are facing a revivified Labour Party. This morning, there has been raised here as a matter of urgency a proposal to talk about constitutional reform, purely as a tactical device to avoid a discussion on defence, and to put off the business paper for the morning a motion which would have flushed out Opposition members and made them tell the Australian public what is their attitude.
So we have this academic subject of constitutional reform rolled out to fill in a gap. The next thing we saw - and this is a sad thing - was the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) forfeit his dignity just because he had made a mistake. He was caught out doing a fairly miserable thing, and he dropped his bundle. The alternative Prime Minister of this country - if that is what he claims to be - was seen here in an ugly mood, in an ungracious mood, unwilling properly to apologize, as a decent man should, for the mistake he made.
Next, we listened to him bumble - that is the only way to describe his speech - his way to a conclusion. Anybody who has read the report has read all this before.
Anybody who has read his last speech on this subject has read it all before. -And what does it all add up to? It adds up to this: The Leader of the Opposition argues that because a select committee of this House agreed to make certain recommendations, the Government is bound to put the country to the expense of a referendum on each and every one of the proposals contained in the report. That is a novel proposition. The Constitutional Review Committee was appointed to make some recommendations and its recommendations, like those of every other committee, are subject to review. The recommendations are not the only material to be considered. There is a good deal of other material that must be put with it, and somebody has got to pass judgment on it all. The task of making the judgment was not passed to the Constitutional Review Committee. That committee was given the task of making what recommendations it thought fit,, and thereafter, it was a question for others, and for the Government to decide what should be done.
I want to say something about the task, because it has been misunderstood. The Opposition seems to think that the task that I have been given in considering this report and other material is to re-make the whole Constitution. That is too great a task to be essayed in this fashion. As I see it, my task is to say which are the prior powers which this Parliament necessarily should have to-day to protect our liberties and to safeguard our interests. The Leader of the Opposition himself agrees that that is the task. I ask honorable members this question, which is worth thinking about: What is the liberty this day which is at stake, and which we need to amend the Constitution to protect? What interest this day requires that we urgently amend the Constitution to safeguard it?
I repeat that this report is not the only material that has to be considered. I am sure that all members of the Constitutional Review Committee, including my honorable friend from New England (Mr. Drummond) will agree, in retrospect, it would have been of much more assistance to us if they had presented to the Government a set of priorities and said, “Here is a number of things that might be done, but this one is more urgent than the others and, if you are thinking of doing anything, this is the more urgent thing to do “. That is what, amongst other things, I must do.
I want to say something else about the Leader of the Opposition. Too often, the Leader of the Opposition imagines that name-calling and insult take the place of argument, and too often he thinks that distortion of the facts will go unnoticed. He opened his remarks on this occasion by saying that on a former occasion I had said that it was too much to ask this House to consider all the committee’s recommendations. That is not the truth. What I said was that to ask this House to debate, within the limited time allowed for a debate of this kind, all the matters involved was not sensible. That is a very different thing, and what the Leader of the Opposition said was not true. The next thing he said was that I bad said on a former occasion that we could not submit the proposals to the electors because they had not been drafted. I said no such thing. What I said is recorded in “ Hansard “, and I have refreshed my mind about it. What I said then, and I repeat it now, was that it would be very foolish and unfair to put in front of the electors of this country a referendum paper with twenty questions on it. I could not imagine anything so silly. I repeat that I said nothing about drafting in that connexion. But it was good enough for the Leader of the Opposition to misrepresent me, hoping that the misrepresentation would not be noticed.
My task - and I have been pursuing it steadily - is to determine, if 1 can, what is the prior need, because one cannot expect, in view of the history of attempted amendments in this country that the people will agree to a number of amendments. The task seems fairly easy to honorable members opposite because they do not believe in federalism. They would like to scrap the whole of the Constitution. But I believe in federalism, as does every honorable member on this side of the House, and my task is to decide what are the powers which are more urgently needed by this Parliament, and which we would have a chance of obtaining at a referendum.
I heard the Leader of the Opposition talking about the relationship between this House and’ another place. I go along with him, and say that probably the framers of the Constitution did not work out that problem as well as they might have; but are we so naive as to think that we could carry through the other House a proposition that would stultify it? Are we so silly as to think that? Yet this report, if we study it closely, says in effect, “Let us destroy the Senate “. We are being asked to pass here a bill which we know we could not hope to have carried in another place! The suggestion is just too naive. So that one point to consider is just what chance a particular matter has of being carried in the Parliament.
The next point is that there is more than one matter to be considered. The committee itself said that there were other matters that needed attention, and that it would have liked another commission to go on and I do know of other matters that might need attention. So it is not a question of rubber stamping this report; it is a question of combining this report with all the other material with a view to deciding precisely what the right recommendation should be. I confess that I do not see the urgency of this matter. Of course, the Opposition likes controls. It would like the Commonwealth to have more power. I remember that in the last Parliament the Opposition’s panacea for all the then-thought-to-be economic ills was constitutional reform, and I suppose the proposal this morning is a reversion to that, because the Opposition has run out of ideas.
I should think that at the election the electors said, not that we should have more control but rather that we should have much less. At the moment, I do not think the electors would want to change the Constitution in order to add to a government’s powers of interference. On the contrary, I think this would be a very bad moment for submitting a referendum, if that is what the Opposition has in mind. So I say in relation to this review that I have to consider other matters than this report, and one matter that always seems to be forgotten by the Opposition is the question of money. If you take power from the States, you have to pay for exercising it federally, and we have no mechanism in the Constitution whereby, against the will of the States, we can re-arrange financial relationships. In 1959, we made an arrangement with the States under which they obtain certain financial grants as of right. For some years, they will continue to get them as of right. If we take a power we must pay for it and give the States the bonus of the saving resulting from their not having to exercise the power. This is not a small problem and it must be added up along with the other problems that have to be considered.
The honorable gentleman said that we had not prepared any drafts. I know of nothing so foolish as to draft something before you have made up your mind what you want to do. The first task for the Government is to find out what it wants to do and what the Parliament wants to do. Our drafting complement is stretched beyond endurance too often. I suppose that the drafting staff of my department is not up to two-thirds of the establishment set some years ago.
– You have been there for some years. Why don’t you built it up?
– I have been advertising around the world, but cannot get enough staff. A draftsman takes many years to train. A man who has drafted under another system of law cannot readily draft under our system, which, with federal questions to be considered, is singularly difficult. I will not put the draftsman on to drafting provisions before we have made up our mind what we mean to attempt to put into force.
What are the practical considerations in this matter? I have said that I see no urgency. I have said, on another occasion, that one has to be most careful in touching organic documents because, unlike statutes, they cannot be changed again without a referendum. I have said on another occasion that the weighing of words in this area is probably the most skilful and difficult task that the lawyer has to put himself to. Then there are the various divergent interests which have to be accommodated. It is very amusing to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that because a group of parliamentarians agree, all the parties will agree. I do not imagine that I would find every honorable member on this side of the House agreeing.
– You are quite right.
– Of course. It is a fallacy to imagine that be cause this group of members after pursuing their inquiries with great diligence and at great length, . came to certain conclusions, all honorable members ic this House will accept those conclusion; and, therefore, that the people will accept them. Nor is it safe to assume that the States will accept them. From the practical point of view, there is only one sensible path to follow and I claim to be following it.
I have not ceased to work on this problem. There is criticism of the fact that, in addition to being Attorney-General, I am Minister for External Affairs. But I was not Minister for External Affairs during the first three years in which I was Attorney-General. During that time - I do not say this in a boastful way - the Attorney-General’s Department had a record of activity unequalled since federation. Notwithstanding a very great amount of activity in the department on the part of its officers and of myself, I have given a great deal of attention to this matter of constitutional reform and I still am giving it a great deal of attention. I think we will all profit, not by rushing into it, but by taking it carefully.
Let me say one final thing: It has been said that I, personally, am against constitutional reform. This is not true. I know the blemishes of the Constitution. I am not exactly inexperienced in handling it. I am not inexperienced, I think, in seeing the consequences of interference with it. But it is that very experience which leads me to the caution which I enjoin on this House. I cannot accept the Opposition’s suggestion that we should immediately put each and every one of these propositions to the people without carefully and patiently, for it does take time, examining them closely. We have the task of deciding, not merely whether they are right, but whether there are others which are also right, and of deciding also which are the reforms that have a practical chance of getting through.
.- The most generous reference that I can make to the contribution of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) to this debate is that he has run true to form and, once again, has proved himself to be a very little Australian. At the outset, I want to correct one or two of the statements that he made. First of all, he said that the initiation of this was only a stunt on the part of the Labour Opposition. He said that we had brought this motion forward with a view to avoiding any discussion on the motion of which notice has been given by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). What greater waste of time could there be than discussing that motion which neither the Opposition nor the Government will support? If honorable members care to look at the business-paper they will find that some weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) gave notice of a motion to discuss the question of resolving differences which arise between the two chambers. It was only as a result of subsequent action which the Leader of the Opposition took to have that motion supplanted by the one that we are now discussing that this debate has ensued to-day.
The Attorney-General may protest that he is not against constitutional reform but the whole history of his activities before he came into this Parliament, and the way in which he has attempted to sabotage this committee’s work, gives the lie to his statement. Let us take the speech that he made on 13th April, 1961, because the speech that he has just made is almost identical to it. On that occasion twelve months ago, he asked -
What is the purpose of the motion?
He said that it was not possible to have a proper discussion without preparation and within the time permitted for such a debate. The Opposition agrees with that. We do not suggest that, in a debate of this nature, we can discuss all the recommendations of the committee whose work lasted for three years. But we do charge the AttorneyGeneral and the Government with having failed to provide Parliament with a proper opportunity to discuss the recommendations of that committee. They have not attempted to do it now. The Attorney-General said that the Leader of the Opposition had misquoted him in saying that the AttorneyGeneral had said on a former occasion that the Government had done nothing in regard to the drafting work associated with the committee’s proposals. The Attorney-
General said that he had refreshed his memory. Let me quote his remarks from “ Hansard “. He said-
Proposals in relation to the committee’s report arc undrafted. No sections have been drafted and no provisions are ready for submission to a referendum.
It is quite obvious that the Government does not want a proper debate on the committee’s recommendations because when we had the matter before us in April of last year the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), who was a member of the Constitutional Review Committee and who had contributed to the discussions and to its recommendations, said in this Parliament that he had been prevented from taking part in the debate. The Government did not want to hear a member of the committee. That indicates how much the Government wanted the matters to be debated. The Attorney-General put himself up as the supreme legal authority in this country on constitutional matters. He said that he was not without experience. But other people have had experience, too - men eminent in the legal profession. Let us look at the names of some of the members of this committee who are legal men. There is Senator Wright, Senator McKenna, Senator O’sullivan, the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), Mr. Justice Joske, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and Mr. Justice Spicer, who was associated with the committee for a time. Sir John Latham, the former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and Professor Geoffrey Sawer of the Australian National University, appeared before the committee strongly to support constitutional reform. Now the Attorney-General says egotistically that all these opinions are to be waved aside as of no importance and that the only views that should be heeded are his own.
Is it not a fact that before the AttorneyGeneral came into this Parliament - and he talked about his not inconsiderable experience in constitutional matters - he appeared for the great business and monopolistic organizations such as the private banks which were interested in maintaining the present Constitution because they believed that it strengthened their privileged position? AH his argument then was against any additional power being granted to the National Parliament. He said, “ We are considering this report, but we must not do it in haste “. We recognize that it is not easy to get an amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution. Experience has shown that; but this was one occasion when a unique committee was appointed by the present Government, comprised of equal representation from both sides. If ever there was a favorable opportunity to get substantia] additional powers for the National Parliament - not for any particular political party but for the Parliament - this was the one big occasion when we had that opportunity.
Let us examine how the Govrm~-.it parties have acted in the past towards alterations of the Constitution. There have not been many cases when the people have approved of such alterations. The most important were in 1928 on the occasion of the Financial Agreement establishing the Australian Loan Council, and in 1946 when the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament over social services were extended. But let me tell the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, how Government supporters reacted when facing up to real issues. The “ Hansard “ reports of the Parliamentary debates show that in 1946 on the three questions then submitted for the decision of the people, the proposal on social services was carried in this Parliament by 54 votes to one. In the case of the vote on the marketing power, only eight Liberal members voted against it. On the question of industrial powers, the only members who opposed the proposal were the Country Party representatives. Yet in the campaign, the Australian Country Party advocated ^ > vote on the three questions.
Let us consider the words of the AttorneyGeneral. He said -
Those words remind me of “ Mein Kampf “; they are very similar. The AttorneyGeneral said -
My task is to see whether I can make recommendations to the Government which, when it suggests an amendment of the Constitution, has a responsibility to consider various basic factors.
One of the factors was expense, and the Minister has repeated that reference to-day. He has said nothing about the expense and the waste of time of this committee which for three years visited every State of the Commonwealth. It was not merely the expense involved and the time taken by committee members. The Attorney-General himself appeared before us as a legal representative for certain interests that were giving evidence, and no doubt he was well paid for his services. So, when one talks about expense, one has to have regard for the enormous expense connected not merely with committee activities but also with those who were called to give evidence before the committee. The Attorney-General said -
I must be satisfied-
That is, no one else but the AttorneyGeneral must be satisfied - that the people understand what the referendum is about.
Evidently, the Attorney-General has little regard for the intelligence of the Australian electors. The Minister also said of the referendum that he must be satisfied - that it has some prospect of being carried.
The Minister has not proved such a very good guide on opinions in the electorates, because it would not have taken more than a slight shove to have put him out of his own seat of Parramatta at the recent elections. The Attorney-General continued -
I must ask myself: Is this addition to the power indispensably necessary?
To show that there are other ways of obtaining uniformity, he referred to the power over corporations and said, in effect: “ Look what we have done by negotiation with the States. We have achieved uniformity in the field of company law and have a standing committee of AttorneysGeneral to see that the company law is kept in line”.
Nobody knows better than does the Attorney-General that the States have sovereign powers and a change of government to-morrow in any one State could alter the uniformity that they have established in regard to company law. The AttorneyGeneral attempts to ridicule the work that the Constitutional Review Committee has done.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Despite what the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has said, it is perfectly clear - and becomes more clear as this debate proceeds - that this is a manoeuvre by Opposition members to avoid a debate on a very contentious issue for them, that is, the increasing pressure of Communist infiltration and subversion, and guerrilla aggression in South-East Asia and the security of Australia. Regardless of whether some honorable members on both sides of the House would agree in their general approach to the matter submitted by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), I believe that the matter of urgency relating to constitutional review, which was submitted at this stage in lieu of the matter which was actually listed for debate this morning, shows that the Opposition does not want to debate either communism or defence.
Moreover, it is clear that the Australian Labour Party sees in the report of the Constitutional Review Committee an opportunity to further its own socialistic objectives. Honorable members opposite see in it an opportunity to further their own views on unification and their aim to centralize power and control in Canberra, for they are not State-minded. It is perfectly clear that although they give lip service to the States and even to the creation of new States, as can be seen from chapter 21 of the committee’s report, their own basic policy and their own basic platform cut completely across such a principle. I believe, as all honorable members on this side of the House believe, in the maximum freedom of every individual. I do not believe that by centralizing powers in Canberra we will achieve that desirable objective. I am sure the States would have strong views about many of the points put forward by the Constitutional Review Committee.
We have been led to believe this morning by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for East Sydney, although not in so many words, that this report was unanimously presented by honorable members appointed to the committee from both sides of the
House. In point of fact, on reference to the report it will be seen that it was not by any means a unanimous report. The present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) for example, dissented from that section relating to industrial power. Senator Wright, whose name has been mentioned in this debate, dissented in relation to the proposals concerning economic powers. So it was not entirely a unanimous report by any means. In fact, in his speech to the House on 13th April, 1961, the Leader of the Opposition said -
We did not always agree among ourselves as to what emphasis we should place on certain suggestions that were put forward; neither did our two colleagues in the Senate, Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly, agree with us at all times.
So we see that on an earlier occasion, the Leader of the Opposition acknowledged that there were divisions of opinion. It is very natural that there should be divisions of opinion on matters of such magnitude as those upon which the committee deliberated. I do not wish to derogate from the splendid work of the members of the committee. Their unremitting effort over a long period was highly commendable although personally I disagree with many of their conclusions and recommendations because I believe that they cut across the federalist principles in which we on this side of the House believe.
The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has already referred to drafting difficulties. I stress also that once the Constitution is amended by way of referendum, and that amendment is written into the Constitution, it can be amended only by another referendum at some later stage. In the meantime, the interpretation of whatever intention may be applied must be that given by the High Court of Australia.
The Attorney-General has also referred to the question of expense. I do not think there is any validity in the contention of the honorable member for East Sydney that because there was a great deal of expense in relation to the appointment of this committee and its investigations, the AttorneyGeneral’s argument about further expense in holding a referendum is of no account. The paramount consideration that must guide us in this, as in other matters, is the welfare of the people. I, for one, believe that the basic test should be, as the
Attorney-General himself has said: What is best for the people of Australia as a whole? I stand foursquare for the freedom of the people of Australia, and a diversification of powers between Commonwealth and States. I do not mean by that statement that I am implacably opposed to change, because I am not, if change can be shown to be for the benefit of the whole people; but I am opposed to change which is intended to produce centralization and unification for the purposes of furthering the socialist aims of the Labour Party.
The whole history of referendums in this country, no matter what the honorable member for East Sydney may say about the prospects of getting approval from the people for these recommendations, is that in 61 years of federation only four out of 24 referendum proposals have been approved, and those four were concerned with comparatively minor matters, two of them very minor. When Dr. Evatt was Attorney-General in 1944, he put to the people a very complex referendum proposal containing fourteen points. I have not totted up the number of recommendations made in this report, but there are many, and . if they were put into an omnibus referendum proposal I have not the slightest doubt that the whole lot would be thrown out by the people, because the record shows indisputably that where the people are in doubt they vote “No”. It is also clear that unless all sides of politics are in complete agreement on a proposed constitutional alteration the people vote “ No “. I think there would be tremendous difficulty in explaining the committee’s voluminous report to the people. I am also very doubtful whether the States would be willing to surrender some of the powers which it has been suggested they should surrender.
I do not hold with people who point the finger of scorn at our 61 -year-old Constitution and deride it as a horse-and-buggy constitution. While it may present some difficulties, I believe that, on the whole, our Constitution has stood this country in good stead over six decades, and I would be very cautious about any amendment of it. I would give any proposed amendment a great deal of thought, and treat it with a great deal of care, on many grounds.
I shall mention only one section of the Constitution specifically - section 92.
Worded as it is, section 92 saved this country in the attack made against the banking system in 1947-48, when the Labour Party was in office. Had it not been for section 92 as it stands this country would have had for many years now a nationalized banking system, and there would be a monopoly control over the whole of our banking structure.
– And we would not have our present standard of living.
– That is correct. I think that if we wrote laws on restrictive trade practices and monopolies into our Constitution we would be setting up a whole heap of trouble for ourselves, and there would be constant litigation before the High Court. We have many lessons to learn from the United States of America following the passage there of the Sherman Act, which is anti-trust legislation. I emphasize again that anything written into our Constitution by means of a referendum can be altered only by way of another referendum, and in the meantime is subject to interpretation by the High Court.
I commend the Attorney-General for the splendid work that he and the State AttorneysGeneral have done in the general field of monopoly and restrictive trade practices, and also in the field of company law. I believe that those two examples indicate the value of having a standing committee to deal with such matters. I much prefer that kind of approach to that recommended by honorable members opposite for alteration of the Constitution, because I think that constitutional alterations are of too permanent a nature.
.- The Parliament and the people are indebted to the honorable member who proposed this subject for d’iscussion to-day. I was shocked at the story unfolded by the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) in his defence of the Government’s negligence. He accused the Opposition of trying to avoid discussion of a motion on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes).
– That would be correct, would it not?
– Let me tell the honorable member for-
– “ Mortein “.
– Yes, “ Mortein “. Let me tell him the facts. One fact is that the Government is acutely relieved that the honorable member for Chisholm’s motion was supplanted. The Government is shedding crocodile tears over this, as is obvious, because yesterday the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) rebuked the honorable member for Chisholm for placing the motion on the notice-paper because of the embarrassment it was causing the Government. Will the Attorney-General deny the truth of that statement? At the party meeting the Attorney-General replied to the criticisms of the honorable member for Chisholm of the Government’s foreign affairs and defence policies. The Attorney-General is the most relieved man in this Parliament in that he has not had to deal in the House to-day with the criticism of the honorable member for Chisholm of foreign policy and defence policy.
Now let us get down to something sensible about this matter and argue it on a nonparty basis. Every Australian realizes that after 61 years of federation the Constitution which was handed to the nation all that time agc must be very substantially outmoded to-day as a result of the passage of time and the increasing complexities of civilization.
– That is true.
– I have not time to reply to the honorable member or to talk in detail of the fantastic developments in life and living that have occurred since 1901. The simple fact is that these things have occurred, and any common-sense Australian knows that in order to keep pace with the developments that have occurred we must bring our Constitution and our laws up to date. Let me take one instance. The Constitution itself contains provision for the making of constitutional amendments. In accordance with that provision from time to time various governments have endeavoured to make the Constitution more workable and bring it up to date. However, because of the party system the moment that one party advises the people to vote “ No “ in a constitutional referendum, while the other advises them to vote “ Yes “, the people decide to take the advice to vote “ No “, from whatever political party it may come. The Prime Minister, who has always been a constitutional reformer, as I know, realizing this situation in 1956, said to this Parliament then, almost in a brotherly manner, “ Look, if we could only get rid of this old bugbear of party differences in reference to the need to amend the Constitution we might be able to do something “. He said: “ Let us have a get-together. Let us appoint members from each party to consider the whole situation.” The Parliament apparently was immensely relieved. The press took up the idea, and also was favorable to it. Little did we know that it was a mockery. Notwithstanding the fact that the very reason for the defeat of previous attempts to alter the Constitution was now removed, that the members comprising the committee co-operated in a most conciliatory manner, and that the committee brought down a recommendation which, despite what the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) says, was almost unanimous., the Prime Minister - the head of this Government, who must shoulder the responsibility for this along with the AttorneyGeneral - pitched the recommendations into the rubbish tip, and that was the end of the matter. Members of the Australian Labour Party on the committee yielded on many of the points they wanted included in the recommendations. Similarly, members of the Liberal Party partly accepted the Labour view on some matters. In regard to the new States recommendation, the Labour Party agreed to some greater facility being provided for the obtaining of a decision of the people. Generally, there was a splendid spirit of compromise. We all wanted to get something; but after two long years we have nothing.
What is the situation that now faces Australia? I would mention two matters. The Attorney-General is wrapped up in foreign affairs and defence, and rightly so. His attitude on these matters would be different from mine. But one point of paramount importance is that the United Kingdom Government is on the eve of announcing that it will join the European Common Market. I say advisedly that the moment the United Kingdom does so, practically all the primary industries in- Australia will face a most difficult situation. No action has been taken to hold a referendum on the question of giving the Commonwealth powers on organized marketing. As a result, we will have a chaotic state of affairs as the Government tries to do what must be done when the United Kingdom joins the Common Market. We need an efficient, flexible and workable constitution that will allow the problem of organized marketing to be solved in an adequate and proper way.
Honorable members need only read the evidence printed in the report of the Constitutional Review Committee to understand the position. They need only read the evidence of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, the Australian Egg Board and other organized marketing groups. The Australian Wheat Board, an efficient organization, sells all Australia’s wheat, but the constitutional position is such that if the authority of this great organization is ever challenged, it will be found that it relies on a most slender constitutional thread. The position of our great dairying industry is similar to that of our wheat industry.
The Government has the impudence to tell the Parliament that one of the reasons why it cannot deal with this situation is that it’ is short of parliamentary draftsmen. I have been a member of the parliaments of this country now for 33 years. Since I first entered a parliament I have heard governments of all political complexions plead a shortage of parliamentary draftsmen when they have been asked to do something. This Government claims to be a government of action, but it has been asleep for so long that it has failed to ensure that a sufficient number of law students in our universities specialize in parliamentary drafting so that we will have an efficient staff available to do this essential work.
The Attorney-General appeared before the Constitutional Review Committee with a paid brief, and quite properly so. But if he had been asked to appear for some other authority to take exactly the opposite view, he would have accepted the brief and his argument to the committee would have been the opposite of the one that he, in fact, presented. I once said to the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), “ One day you appear in the arbitration court for the bosses and the next day you appear for the trade unions “. He said, “ I win both ways, don’t I? “ This argument can be used to discount the sincerity and earnestness of some men when they become politicians.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sifting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
- Mr. Speaker, I join with previous speakers on this side of the House in stating that, obviously, the Opposition has proposed this subject for discussion as a matter of urgency only in order to avoid debate on foreign policy, a field in which it is particularly weak. In fact, as far as we can see, honorable members opposite have not a foreign policy. Numbers of them have stated that the Parliament should continue to sit until the end of May. If this is the sort of thing that is to be proposed for discussion, why should we continue to sit until the end of May? This sort of discussion is completely time-wasting.
The question of constitutional reform as recommended in the report of the Constitutional Review Committee is a very serious matter. Most definitely, we need reform of the Australian Constitution, but we cannot accept the committee’s recommendations in their entirety. Obviously, as has been pointed out, the committee was not unanimous in its findings. We were very fortunate to have as members of the committee men of strong and independent views. Senator Wright very properly pointed out the dangers inherent in the recommendations regarding the Senate.
This brings me to the thinking of honorable members opposite. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), I think, suggested that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was not sufficiently modern in his thinking. However, I would say that our concepts of liberty and of safeguards for individual liberty stem from very old thinking which began at the time of Magna Carta, nearly 800 years ago, when the first great advance in thinking on this subject was made. I believe that, although this is old thinking, for our purposes it is very modern thinking. But what is the new thinking embraced by honorable members opposite? We on this side of the House view with very great concern the modern thinking of the Australian Labour Party. In regard to constitutional reform, that party has made continuing efforts to centralize the control of all government. That is undoubtedly the case, as is indicated by the history of Labour governments throughout Australia, in both State and Federal spheres.
– Prove it.
– I am asked to prove that, and 1 shall attempt to do so. We see, first of all, a desire on the part of the Labour Party to be rid of a house of review - a desire to remove all control over legislation - so that the Labour Party may bring in any legislation it wishes in order to put power in the hands of a few and develop a system under which the politicians and the bureaucrats will be the most important persons in our community. We have to avoid that.
In Queensland, we have had a particularly unfortunate history in this respect. A Labour government in that State held a referendum on the abolition of the upper House.
– It did not.
– It did. My friend will have to bring himself up to date in that matter. The people of Queensland voted against the abolition of the upper House.
– Does the honorable member want it back?
– I do. After the referendum, at which the people rejected the proposal, a Labour government appointed to the Legislative Council in that State members of the Australian Labour Party who would vote for abolition, and it then abolished the Council. When the last Labour Government was in office in Queensland, we saw clear evidence of the ills which result from the centralization of power in just a few hands. It all boils down to this, Mr. Speaker: A cabinet can alter overnight the whole situation respecting vital matters of state.
– Why has not the Country Party-Liberal Government in Queensland restored the upper House, then?
– We would like to restore it. I hope that the present Government will do so. If it has a proper concept of the future development and progress of Queensland, the present State Government must see that it will have to restore the Legislative Council in that State.
The danger in all these things lies in the endeavour, by people who wish to move towards communism, to subvert the legal machinery of government in order to assume power. That is where their first efforts are directed. Under the present State constitution, a judge can be sacked overnight in Queensland. We must not forget that. That is the sort of situation into which the thinking of the Australian Labour Party leads us. In respect of the thinking of that party, there is a similar situation in New South Wales, where the Labour Government endeavoured to abolish the upper House and remove the barriers standing in the way of total control. Wisely, the people of New South Wales denied that attempt.
The recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee respecting the Senate would reduce the Senate to a mere cipher. The committee’s idea of a joint sitting of the two Houses to solve a problem that might be a very serious one for the people of Australia would reduce the power of the individual elector to exercise control of affairs through his elected representative. It has been suggested that the present procedure of double dissolution is cumbersome. But liberty is so valuable as to make it necessary that we accept this cumbersome feature unless we can think of a better procedure. Senator Wright, in his dissenting report, quoted some words of that great British legislator, Sir Winston Churchill, as follows: -
That is something that we must not lose sight of, and it is a principle to which we on this side of the House adhere. We must keep in the hands of the people the power to rule through the Parliament.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) brought up the question of organized marketing. To make a complete success of organized marketing - if one could call it a success - we would have to interfere with section 92 of the Constitution. That is one of the vital sections of our Constitution, and we cannot afford to interfere with it. So far, we have succeeded very well indeed with our concepts of organized marketing. Organizations of primary producers have reached agreement very well, and we have succeeded in putting into effect many schemes for organized marketing. Goodness knows how far organization would go if we abolished section 92 of the Constitution. If we did so, we would be at the mercy of government transport, for one thing. Every primary producer knows to his cost what dependence on inefficient State government railways means. There is no doubt about it: If we abolished section 92, we would be completely in the hands of the State government railways. We would have no road transport, which is vital to our community.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) commenced by saying that this matter was proposed for discussion in order to displace a debate on a matter placed on the notice-paper by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). A fortnight ago yesterday, notice was given by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) of his intention to bring in a bill on one aspect of the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. Before you called him on that day, Mr. Speaker, and as he had given notice of another motion the previous day, you called the only honorable member who rose on the Government side, the honorable member for Chisholm, who brought forward from the bottom of the notice-paper the matter of which he had given notice on the first sitting day, and for which he had been condemned by his Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) at their party meeting on the following day. Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition withdrew his notice, and later, immediately after question time, 23 hours ago, I informed the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) that we would propose this matter for debate to-day. In other words, Sir, we have brought forward for debate, and are now debating - and if if it were not for this matter we would now be debating nothing but Government business - a matter which has the support of the great majority of honorable members of this House instead of a matter which only one member supports. Not only is our proposal supported by all the people on your left, Sir; it is also supported by most members of the Country Party, and a very great number of honorable members in the Liberal Party.
The Country Party brought up in this House the new States recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee, on the initiative of the late right honorable member for Cowper, towards the end of the sittings of the last Parliament. We supported the right honorable gentleman on that occasion, and all honorable members who spoke, or who were allowed to speak, on the Government side supported him. We also then supported the related proposal for a referendum on the matter of orderly marketing.
Frankly, Sir, I am disappointed in the honorable member for McPherson, because on the last occasion, 364 days ago, on which the question of implementing the recommendations of the committee was debated in this House, the late right honorable member for Cowper supported the findings of the committee, and the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes), who was gagged, said he ventured to suggest that the report of the committee had been generally approved. It was known that the then honorable member for Canning wholeheartedly supported the recommendations of the committee. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) supported the recommendations of the committee then, as he still does.
– In toto?
– In toto. Those honorable members stick to their strongly held and expressed opinions. The urgency of this matter is more obvious now than it was on the last occasion when it was debated. We are now presented with the prospect of one of the circumstances, and we have since been presented with a repetition of the other circumstances, which led to the setting up of the committee in 1956. When the committee was established in 1956, it was known that after 1st July of that year the Government would have only half the total number of senators. After 1st July this year, the Government will again have only half the number of senators. Furthermore, a census has been held recently, and because of deficiencies in our Constitution we are prevented from counting aborigines when determining how many seats in this House should be allotted to each State. If we were permitted to count aborigines, Western Australia would not now be about to lose one of its seats in this House. Further, Sir, we are about to have another redistribution, and we shall soon have to consider, for the second time in twelve months, another Commonwealth Electoral Bill. All these matters were dealt with by the committee and, with the exception of Senator Wright, who disagreed regarding some of the matters concerning relations between the Houses, the members of the committee were unanimous. Every one of the committee’s recommendations has been drafted, and has been ready to put before the people for the last two and one-half years.
The honorable member for McPherson expanded on the benefits of an upper house. The abolition of our upper House has not been recommended by the committee. We were unable to get the committee to make such a recommendation. But our liberties are not preserved by a gerrymander. Our liberties are not preserved by stalling tactics indulged in by one or other of the Houses. The disputes between the Houses would still be settled, but more promptly and economically, by the suffrage of the people under the committee’s recommendations.
The honorable member also referred to section 92. There is no recommendation by the committee that section 92 be taken out of the Constitution. The committee made two recommendations on the section, one of which would enable marketing schemes to be effective if 60 per cent, of the producers wanted them, irrespective of the present interpretation of section 92. The other would validate road taxes, which all State governments have imposed, if the Inter-State Commission approved of them.
The position now is that every member of every State Parliament and of this Parliament, irrespective of political party, can support marketing schemes or road tax laws, and some maverick can completely defy the wishes of every elected member of Parliament and of the majority of producer and transport organizations.
Another reason why it has become a matter of urgency to modernize the Constitution is that we have now had a third horror budget. The committee was established immediately after the Government’s second horror budget. The House will remember that, in 1956, the Prime Minister said there was a need to have a look at the constitutional problem of hire-purchase finance. He also said, “There may be a good deal to be said for introducing selectivity into the demand for capital by some system of capital issues control “. Is it any wonder that when the committee which he then sponsored came to consider these matters it made recommendations, which were supported by all the Country Party and Labour Party members and by three out of the four Liberal Party members, for Commonwealth powers to regulate hire purchase and capital issues? The present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) had previously said in this House that it was his view that Parliament should be able to pass laws on these subjects, as all other national parliaments in the world can pass, and as they do pass when they think fit. Knowing his views, his colleagues elected him to the committee. Is it any wonder, then, that the committee made recommendations on such subjects?
In November, 1960, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that he was once again using the blanket fiscal and banking controls which had to be used in 1951 and 1956, because of the limitations on our constitutional powers over hire purchase, investment and interest rates. Only last week, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said: -
We want as many economic weapons at our disposal as we can provide in order to minimise in Australia the effect of changes which take place overseas.
This Government would have governed better, and we would have had less severe horror budgets, less unemployment and less economic dislocation, if the Government had had a greater variety and better balance of contemporary economic powers, such as are possessed by every other national parliament in the world. We are handicapping Australia by denying the Australian parliament the powers which other governments have, and which this Government in fact said in 1956 and 1960 that it would have liked to have. With such powers, it could have been less sudden and severe in the imposition of horror budgets.
I assure honorable members that the Liberal and Country Party members of the committee were just as dogged and dedicated in pursuit of their political principles as any of their colleagues in this House, and I know from my own three years’ contact with them that they stuck to their guns as tenaciously as any of the honorable members who have spoken on this subject to-day, or who spoke on it a year ago. I will not have them aspersed. I know them to be honorable men. I also believe them to be enlightened and rational men.
With the passage of time the need to implement the committee’s recommendations has become more, and not less, urgent. In the last century we did not have television or nuclear energy or civil aviation; we were not an industrialized country. At the present time we spend - and the States do not spend - money on scientific and industrial research, television, civil aviation, shipbuilding, the provision of nuclear energy, and subsidized marketing. This Government, alone among Australian governments, is permitted to deal internationally with matters affecting industrial conventions, civil aviation, navigation and nuclear energy. We cannot properly and promptly fulfil our international obligations because we have not the constitutional power to do so.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, the Government has queried the sincerity of the Opposition in raising this subject as an urgent matter. Whether it is urgent or hot is one thing, and whether the Opposition sincerely believes it is urgent is another thing.
– We do.
– I am glad to hear that, because the conduct of the Opposition in pursuing it is rather odd. Twelve months ago almost to the day - 13th April - the Opposition brought this up as a matter of urgent public interest. It wanted the whole of the committee’s recommendations to be submitted to the people of Australia in one package. This matter was so urgent that it had to be dealt with by the House as a matter of urgency. In the intervening time there has been a federal election. If this were a matter of great importance and urgency to the people of Australia one would have thought the Leader of the Opposition would have at least made an appeal for a mandate to submit the recommendations of the committee at a referendum, in toto, as he previously suggested. I have read his policy speech during the recent election campaign, and I cannot find in it one word which refers to constitutional change - the policy speech which the Opposition had the audacity to offer for sale to the Australian public at 6d. per copy.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who has intervened in this debate, thought so little of the importance of constitutional change to aid in the marketing of primary products that he did not refer to it, except to deny that it was necessary, because he made a proposal regarding the orderly marketing of wool. In a supplementary policy speech, he said -
As 95 per cent, of Australia’s wool is exported and as the Commonwealth has untrammelled authority over exports, no serious constitutional problems arise.
That is how urgent constitutional amendment was at election time.
– There are exceptions.
– The honorable member did not refer to constitutional amendments in any other aspect in his policy speech. So, I think the Government is entitled to assume that there is lack of sincerity on the part of the Opposition in bringing this matter forward at this time as a matter of urgent public importance. If the Opposition denies, as it does, that this debate is to prevent a discussion on defence, one can only conclude that honorable members opposite have some other motive. Possibly they want to impress on the public that they are an alive Opposition and are alert to take every party political advantage they can. Let them get every party political advantage they can out of this. I suggest that their sincerity in this is in line with that of the Australian Council of Trade Unions when it sponsors annually an equalpayforthesexes week. Here we have the Opposition bringing forward the subject of constitutional amendment annually as a matter of urgent public importance. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has not been near the arbitration commission on this issue of equal pay for the sexes since about 1950; but it pretends to support that principle. During the recent election campaign the Opposition did not mention constitutional reform.
– Our leader and all of us mentioned it constantly during the election campaign.
– You did not think it of sufficient importance to put it in your policy speech.
– We did, and there was a statement made on it in April last year after our conference.
– Not one word about constitutional reform was put forward in the policy speech of the Labour Party at the recent election. Possibly you thought of it as an afterthought; yet you put everything but the kitchen sink into your policy speech.
What exactly does the Opposition want? In April last year it said it wanted the whole of the recommendations to be referred to the people of Australia. If it really hopes that these recommendations will be accepted by the people of Australia, I cannot understand its attitude, because referring to the lot would be the surest way to lose a referendum. To-day honorable members opposite ask for not all but most of the recommendations to be put to the people. One wonders which ones they would leave out and which they would include. One recommendation of the committee was discussed in this House last year on an electoral bill, and it was rejected by the vote of the House. Is that one that honorable members opposite would now Include again, or would they like to leave it out? Honorable members opposite are completely silent about these things. This report is an interesting one. I pay full tribute to the committee, which did a tremendous amount of work on it; but, as the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) pointed out, it has merely made recommendations. The committee’s report is not a demand that the whole thing should be accepted in toto, although the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitiam) says certain members still want it accepted in toto.
In his speech the Deputy Leader of the Opposition very cleverly referred to certain parts of the report which would have an appeal to one or more members of this House regardless of party. The committee’s report is like the curate’s egg. It is a different egg to different people. Some people are attracted by certain parts of it and some are attracted by other parts. But there could be nothing more deadly to the cause of constitutional reform than to put the committee’s recommendations to the people of Australia in one piece. Let us take the recommendations in respect of the Senate, to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition attached considerable importance. Here are problems which must be given thought. But a number of senators - not only the senator who distinguished the committee with his wisdom and his dissenting report - entirely disagree with the report which, if implemented, although it would not destroy the Senate, would atrophy its authority and control over the government of the day. The second chamber is there, and by well-established constitutional practice exercises some supervision over a government with a large majority in this House. But under the proposals of the committee it would not have that power.
I pay full tribute to the work done by members of the committee, but here again we have wide divergences of view between honorable members opposite. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the representatives on the committee of each party stuck doggedly to their party principles. On the other hand, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said each party bent over backwards in order to reach unanimity. Exactly what did happen? I am interested to know the reason for this wide divergence of views between the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– You are suppressing the divergence of opinion between the Minister for Immigration and yourself.
– Let us see how honorable members opposite stuck to their party political principles. They have as a plank in their party platform the abolition of State governments and the substitution of municipal or regional governments. How doggedly did they stick to that principle, and to the principle of the abolition of the Senate except by the back-door means implicit in this report? If there was dogged adherence to party political principles, it certainly was not displayed by the Opposition.
In the brief time at my disposal I point out that there are urgent and important constitutional problems. I believe the Government has been tackling them in a way which is far preferable to the package deal that the Opposition wants to try to sell to the people of Australia. In the first place we have the meeting of State AttorneysGeneral which the Attorney-General initiated in 1959. There has been great and considerable progress made in a really democratic way, respecting the rights of the States and not excluding them, whereas the Leader of the Opposition said to-day that he would not have the States in on this because that would impede the powers of the Commonwealth Government. Yet in answer to a question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition the other day the Attorney-General was able to supply a long list, which I have not time to read out, of laws which have been devised with some degree of uniformity between the States, and to indicate that the Attorneys-General had got down to work and made considerable progress in that respect.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Was it in connexion with something said during the debate?
– Yes. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) misrepresented me in that he said that there was no mention by me in my rural policy speech of the need for amending the Constitution. I read from that policy speech, from which the honorable gentleman also quoted. In heavy type appears the following statement: -
A Labour Government will seek amendments to the Constitution as necessary to provide more effective nation-wide orderly marketing facilities and as recommended by the All-Party Joint Committee on Constitutional Review.
In a broadcast made by me on behalf of the Australian Labour Party at 8 p.m. on 17th November last, I made this statement -
A Labour Government will seek amendments to the Constitution as necessary to provide more effective nation-wide orderly marketing facilities and as recommended by the All-Party Joint Committee on Constitutional Review.
I certainly did refer to wool, because I said that there were no constitutional difficulties connected with the question of wool marketing. The honorable gentleman deliberately misrepresented me, and I give him the lie direct.
– I apologize to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I did not deliberately misrepresent him. I overlooked the passage which he has read, and I now amend what I said and say that he did offer one point that was contained in the report.
– I have been misrepresented again. I offered two points.
– I will settle for two.
– The two points covered the whole range of organized marketing with respect to wool and all other forms of primary production.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor is now out of order. As it is now past the time provided for precedence of general business, government business will be called on.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Tariff Board Bill 1962.
Customs Tariff Bill 1962.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 1) 1962.
– by leave - For some time past negotiations have been going on amongst a number of European countries towards the development of what has been referred to as the European space club, although its objectives are much more specific than the name might imply. Late in 1961 an Australian delegation joined the negotiations, which resulted in the production of a draft convention for the establishment of a body to be known as the European Organization for the Development of Space Vehicle Launchers. The High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom has been authorized to sign this convention to-day, and thus Australia will have indicated its intention to become a foundation member of the European Launcher Development Organization, henceforth to be known by its short title, Eldo. Ratification of this intention will be necessary at a later date.
Additional founder members of the organization will be Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Denmark, which participated in inaugural discussions, has indicated that she wishes to join at a later date, and it will be open for any other European country to join, subject to unanimous agreement by the existing members and acceptance by the nation concerned of the terms of membership, including the financial basis of participation.
Eldo is being formed to develop rockets capable of launching satellites or other space vehicles into orbit for peaceful purposes, such as communications, international television transmission, weather forecasting and so on. The first project to be undertaken by Eldo is the development of a three-stage rocket based primarily on the British Blue Streak rocket, with a French rocket known as “ Veronique “ as the second stage and using a third-stage rocket which is to be developed substantially by Germany. Australia’s responsibility in the first programme will be the organizing and conduct of the test firings at the Woomera rocket range of at least the first-stage rocket and the completed three-stage rocket. Other phases of the work, such as test satellite development, will be undertaken under the leadership of different member nations, but co-operatively, so that any member state may nominate a limited number of its nationals to take a direct part in the work on any phase.
Australia now finds itself in a very advantageous position by virtue of its capital investment in the Woomera rocket range, the facilities available at Woomera for this type of work, and the sound scientific and technical complex, both private and governmental, which backs the Woomera range. The European members of Eldo, with a full appreciation of the considerable experience which Australia has gained in the field of rocket testing, and mindful of the facilities to which I have referred, have offered Australia membership without further financial contribution in the first programme to be undertaken by Eldo, the consideration being the use of the range for testing Eldo rockets. The first programme referred to is estimated to occupy five years and to cost approximately £70,000,000 sterling.
Eldo will not be called upon to meet the capital cost already incurred in establishing facilities which existed at the Woomera range prior to 1st November, 1961. Eldo, however, will meet the cost of completing, modifying or adding to the facilities existing at that date such improvements as are required for the Eldo programme.
Australia will carry out work on behalf of Eldo under a contract in which the precise terms of payment by the organization will be stated, and which will ensure to Australia, in accordance with normal policy, complete authority in such matters as range administration and safety. It is anticipated that the first test firings of an Eldo rocket, which will be in a westerly direction, will be carried out towards the end of 1963.
The Government’s decision to join Eldo will permit Australia not only to maintain the association with the United Kingdom at Woomera which has been developed over the past decade, but will bring us closer to the other European nations which have, during discussions extending over several months, expressed considerable interest in Australia’s achievements and capabilities at Woomera.
The ultimate development of the threestage Eldo launcher will call for firings in a north-easterly direction. This in turn will demand the establishment of a station for the guidance of each rocket to ensure that, following its separation from the launcher vehicle, the satellite will settle into the correct predetermined orbit. Although some technical studies are still to be conducted, it is expected that such a station will be required in the vicinity of Cape York.
There are clearly substantial advantages to Australia in our membership of Eldo. In the first place, we are foundation members of the organization, with the right to full participation in the first programme without financial contribution, and with the probability that subsequent programmes, if based on Woomera, will admit us to continued participation on the same terms. On the other hand, no obligation rests upon us to participate in any programme beyond the first.
Our membership of Eldo carries with it the right of any member state to elect to participate on agreed terms in any commercial application of an Eldo-developed launcher, into which any other member state decides to enter. Thus, for example, Australia would have the right of election to join with all or any of the other European members of Eldo, including the United Kingdom, in the commercial use of an Eldo launcher for the purpose of launching telecommunications satellites.
I believe that there is benefit to be derived by Australian industry through the acquisition of advanced technical knowledge which will be available to Australia as a result of membership of the organization, since the work will primarily be development in a field in which rapid advances are being made, particularly in respect of metallurgy, chemistry, propulsion, electronics and general engineering.
By virtue of our participation in these fields of advanced technology, Australia will offer much-needed opportunities for coming scientists who might otherwise be persuaded to seek outlet for their talents abroad. As it is, they will be offered the opportunity to work close to leading international scientists and engineers by participating in Eldo developmental work in other countries. With all this, 4 am hopeful of establishing a formula under which Australian industry will participate in the work which we are now doing and which is further contemplated at Woomera.
The Government’s decision to accept the offer of partnership with European nations in a field1 which is currently of world-wide interest and of such potential importance will, I am sure, further enhance the standing of this country in the eyes of the world. I welcome also this opportunity for Australia to become a partner with European nations in this endeavour, and trust that the efforts of Eldo, in which Australia will play no small part, will meet with success.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
European Launcher Development Organization - Ministerial Statement - and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to Income Tax.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– :by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In this bill, several important amendments to the income tax law are proposed. Foremost among the measures to be considered by the House is a proposal to authorize an investment allowance in the form of a special income tax deduction based upon expenditure on new manufacturing plant.
In proposing the allowance the Government aims to encourage greater investment in our manufacturing industries and thus ensure, in both the short and the long term, a greater volume of both output and employment. It seeks also to promote greater efficiency in manufacturing production from which should flow the advantages of lower costs which will benefit the Australian consumer and help our industries to seek export opportunities in markets overseas.
Honorable members will be aware of the broad pattern of the investment allowance, since it was foreshadowed in the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the national economy on 7th February last, and in my own statement in the following week further details of the allowance were provided. As my statement indicated, the Government expected that representations from industry would raise matters of detail before this legislation was introduced. Many points of view have, in fact, been placed before the Government and each has received careful consideration in the light of the broad policy underlying the aims of the new allowance.
I turn now to an outline of the form the investment allowance will take in our income tax law. The allowance will permit a manufacturer to deduct from his assessable income 20 per cent, of the capital cost of new manufacturing plant. This will be a deduction additional to the normal allowances available for depreciation of the plant. The taxation benefit of the allowance will accrue to the manufacturer in the first year in which he uses the plant for the purpose of producing assessable income or installs it ready for that purpose and holds it in reserve.
Broadly speaking, plant eligible for the allowance will be new manufacturing plant delivered to a manufacturer’s premises on or after the date of the Prime Minister’s announcement that the allowance would be introduced - 7th February, 1962. Special provision is made in the bill for complex plant constructed on the manufacturer’s premises by the manufacturer himself or by an independent operator. These categories of plant will qualify for the allowance if, on the one hand, construction commenced, or, on the other hand, the contract for construction was let, not earlier than 7th February, 1962. In certain circumstances, components of plant delivered to the manufacturing premises on or after that date for use by a manufacturer who is constructing plant on those premises may qualify for the allowance without regard to the date on which construction was initiated.
The allowance will apply to plant used in the actual process of manufacturing and also to plant the use of which is inseparably associated with manufacture. For example, plant used in the disposal of waste substances resulting from the application of a manufacturing process will qualify for the allowance, lt is a prerequisite for the allowance of the deduction, however, that the plant be used primarily, principally and directly in manufacturing processes or in processes ancillary to manufacturing processes. It is also a prerequisite of the allowance that the plant be owned by the manufacturer.
Certain plant will not qualify for the deduction, notably motor vehicles of the kind ordinarily used for the transport of persons or the delivery of goods, and plant acquired by a manufacturer in a secondhand or used condition.
Plant used in the mining industries may qualify for the allowance to the extent that its use is in the concentration of metals, or in processes normally undertaken after a metal has been subjected to a process of concentration. The allowance will apply to plant used in these processes when the cost of the plant is written off for taxation purposes over the estimated life of the mine or under the ordinary depreciation provisions of the assessment legislation.
The allowance will apply over the whole broad range of the manufacturing industries and will include within its scope such industries as saw-milling, meat and fish curing, the production of frozen or chilled meat, the canning of foodstuffs and the deep freezing and packing of primary products, including vegetables. Further details of the allowance are set out in an explanatory memorandum that will be circulated for the information of honorable members.
The bill also contains provisions designed to encourage investment of Australian capital in companies whose principal business is prospecting or mining in Australia or the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
If such a company receives moneys that it applies towards the paid-up value of shares that it issues, it will be entitled to lodge with the Commissioner of Taxation a declaration that those moneys, or a part of them, will be expended on its prospecting or mining activities. The new provisions will then entitle a shareholder resident in Australia or the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to a deduction for the amount of his contribution specified in the declaration. As a corollary, a corresponding reduction will be made in the allowances to which the company would otherwise be entitled for capital expenditure on exploration and prospecting, mine development, plant or housing and welfare for employees.
The existing income tax law already contains comparable provisions relating to capital subscribed to oil exploration companies and, in these circumstances, the measure now proposed will not extend to amounts paid for shares in those companies. As exemption from tax is available in relation to income from mining for gold or uranium, the proposed deductions will not be available for capital to be employed in prospecting or mining for those minerals.
As a safeguard, it has been necessary to include in the bill provisions under which deductions may be withdrawn if a company does not expend capital received in a manner consistent with a declaration made by it.
The proposed allowance to shareholders will be available in relation to moneys paid on shares after to-day and up to 30th June, 1964.
A further proposal will be of particular interest to primary producers. The present law authorizes depreciation allowances at 20 per cent, of the cost of plant used solely for” agricultural, pastoral or fishing (including pearling) pursuits if the plant is first installed by the taxpayer or is ready for use before 1st July, 1962. Depreciation at the rate of 20 per cent is also available in relation to structural improvements situated on land used for agricultural or pastoral pursuits or which are used for pearling operations. This allowance applies if the structural improvements are completed before 1st July, 1962, or alternatively are commenced not later than that date and are completed by 30th June, 1963. The Government proposes that these allowances be extended for a period of five years and this bill accordingly contains provisions to give effect to that proposal.
The last of the proposals included in the bill will, the Government believes, be a matter of satisfaction to persons leaving Australia whether they be Australian residents or visitors to Australia. As I have already announced, it is proposed that effect be given to a recommendation of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation that the system of tax clearances now operating in Australia be abolished.
The law requiring persons leaving Australia to obtain a tax clearance before departure was first introduced in 1922 as a means of protecting the revenue. Australia was at that time virtually isolated from other countries by the long sea voyages required. Since then, however, faster and more comfortable air and sea transport have revolutionized travel to and from Australia and tourists and other visitors now provide an important and increasing flow of overseas funds, amounting in 1961 to something of the order of £19,100,000.
There is little doubt that tourists tend to give preference to those countries where travel is least impeded and Australia in this respect is at present disadvantaged because most countries do not require visitors to obtain a tax clearance. An associated aspect is that in 1959 a convention of the International Civil Aviation Organization recommended that contracting States shall not require taxation clearances from tourists and other temporary visitors. Australia, as a contracting State, has an obligation to conform with internationally accepted standards. Apart from these issues, increasing numbers of Australians are being unnecessarily inconvenienced by having to obtain a taxation clearance before going overseas.
Some loss to the revenue may occur as a result of the proposed repeal of the clearance provisions. However, relatively few overseas visitors derive income from Australian sources whilst in Australia and others are exempt from tax under reciprocal provisions of a number of double tax agreements concluded with English-speaking countries. Residents of Australia going overseas who owe substantial amounts of tax usually have assets here which would satisfy their tax liability. Against any loss of revenue there should be set savings in the increasing administrative costs now being incurred in the issue of clearance certificates.
As already mentioned I have arranged for the circulation to honorable members* of a memorandum which is explanatory of all the provisions of the bill. In these circumstances, I do not propose at this stage to comment further on the bill, which I commend to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the law relating to Patents of Inventions.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
.- by leave- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Patents Act. For the most part, though not exclusively, it represents the final stage of my own endeavour to resolve a problem which for nearly twenty years has vexed manufacturing interests, the patent attorneys’ profession, the Patent Office and successive Attorneys-General. The problem is the stage in an inventor’s application for a patent at which knowledge of his invention or perhaps, more relevantly, what he claims to be his invention, is to be made available to the public.
Honorable members who sat in the last Parliament will remember that on 18th May, 1960, I introduced a bill which embodied, amongst other things, a new provision in respect of this problem; I proposed to accept a recommendation in this regard made by the Patent Law Review Committee. This proposal aroused opposition from a number of manufacturing interests which claimed they had not had a sufficient opportunity to place their views before the committee. I therefore substituted an interim scheme, and subsequently met deputations from the manufacturing interests concerned. I have received, in addition, a great number of written representations.
The proposal which the Government makes in the present bill is new. The interests affected by a .patents system are numerous, and sometimes divergent. I make no claim that this bill reconciles all differences. I do put it forward as a fair, and original, adjustment.
Let me state with some particularity the problem which arises for solution. Australia, like Great Britain and the United States, in its patent law follows a system of granting letters patent for inventions after a thorough examination by a patent office of a number of aspects of the inventor’s claim which go to the validity of the patent. The consideration for the granting of the monopoly, which the letters patent give, is that the applicant has disclosed, and thus made available for public use at the end of his monopoly, a manner of manufacture which is new, either in its method, or in its product. Thus the question whether that which is claimed to be an invention is in truth new - not already known to the public - is investigated by the Patent Office.
The broad course of an application for a patent is that the claimant, whom I shall for convenience call the inventor, makes application for letters patent and may, in the first place, merely lodge a very broad description of his invention. When he does this, he is said to lodge a provisional specification. Having done this, he is free to use his invention publicly without it being said later that he has thereby made it public and thus destroyed its novelty. Later he must lodge a complete specification, which must describe his invention with great precision and detail, as well as describe the best method he knows of carrying it out and must specify the claims to monopoly which he makes, or he may lodge such a full description in the first place. This document is examined by the Patent Office. Objections may be made to it and the applicant may make adjustments to it so as to make it satisfy requirements of the patent law.
Ordinarily, the public would not be allowed to see the complete specification until it had reached its final form and had been accepted by the Commissioner of Patents, both as complying with procedural requirements and also, as, in the commissioner’s view, describing a new manner of manufacture. Once the public are given access) to the complete specification, a step that is commonly called publication of the complete specification, the inventor becomes entitled to have his monopoly respected. Thus, when his letters patent ultimately issue, he can, as. from the date of the letters patent, sue in the courts in respect of any breaches of his monopoly that have occurred since the public were given access to his complete specification.
Ideally, the time which would elapse between the first lodgment of a complete specification and the time at which the public were given access to it after acceptance would be only a matter of a few months; but at times the great number of applications for letters patent, coupled with the lack of adequate numbers of trained staff, causes a period of many months to elapse between the date of the lodgment of the complete specification and its ultimate acceptance by the Commissioner of Patents. Such a situation developed during the most recent war, and although it had ameliorated significantly when the Patent Law Review Committee was sitting, latterly it has recurred.
It was realized in Australia, at the end of the war, that an inventor was disadvantaged by this delay in that he was unable to enforce his monopoly in respect of that period. Also there may be inventions which are of passing utility and of which the inventor really losses the whole advantage by the length of time involved in the examination of his complete specification in the Patent Office. The remedy taken for this in 1946 was to introduce an amendment to provide, in section 38a of the Patents Act 1903-1946, that a complete specification was to be made available to the public after lodgment. This resulted in the documents becoming open to public inspection in about two months after they were lodged with the Patents Office. Subsequently, in section 43 of the Patents Act 1952-1955, the time for making these documents open to the public inspection was set at six months after lodgment.
This was the state of the law at the time the Patent Law Review Committee was asked to review certain aspects of the Patents Act 1952-1955, and at the time I introduced a bill to give effect to certain of the committee’s recommendations.
In my second-reading speech in introducing this bill, which is reported in “Hansard” of 2nd June, 1960, vol. 27, page 2213, honorable members will find a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of making the documents open to public inspection soon after their lodgment and before the Patent Office has completed its examination. Broadly, so far as the inventor is concerned, it gave him rights to be compensated for breaches of his monopoly which occurred after the documents were made available to the public, but limited very much his ability to mould his documents so as to obtain the greatest advantage to which be might be entitled in respect of his labours as an inventor. From the manufacturers’ point of view, it gave them an opportunity of knowing at an early stage, when setting up new factories or in engaging in new processes of production, what patent rights were involved or were likely to be involved. Also, they claimed that it saved them from duplicating research which the inventor had done, the result of which his documents, when opened to public inspection, would reveal to them. Neither the British nor the American patent system had been changed in the same way as ours had been by the provision for early publication of the complete specification. As a result, in some cases where inventors sought to obtain protection in other countries as well as this, access could be obtained to an inventor’s documents in Australia before they could be seen in the place where the inventor had made his principal application for protection of his invention, for example, in America. This led to a reduction in the number of inventions which were sought to be brought to Australia for protection.
The problem thus posed was one of some complexity, with, as 1 have said, divergent interests to be satisfied. In considering its resolution, I thought that there would be merit in providing for the grant of a compulsory licence to a manufacturer who entered upon a course of industrial development in good faith during the period of consideration of an inventor’s application by the Patent Office. However, discussions with representatives of all interested parties gave me no encouragement to proceed with the proposal for compulsory licences. I accordingly abandoned it and proceeded to the permanent solution of the problem of the proper time to make an application public without providing for compulsory licences.
This bill, which does a number of things to which I will refer, seeks to enact the solution I propose. The solution in total is this. An inventor may ask that his complete specification be opened to public inspection, although not accepted by the Commissioner of Patents, at any time after three months from the date on which he lodged his complete specification. That is provided in clause 9 of the bill. This will enable an inventor who has what I might call an ephemeral invention to obtain the benefit of it whilst its utility or attraction is still current. It will also enable the inventor who is willing to accept all the disadvantages that earlier publication may involve to require such publication and thus to accelerate the date as from which he can have the full benefit of his monopoly when once it is granted by the issue of letters patent. As I will point out later, 1 have tried to minimize the disadvantages of early publication by other amendments which this bill proposes.
But although an inventor is not willing to have his documents laid open to the public before acceptance by the Patent Office, the commissioner will be bound, under this solution, to open the application to public inspection eighteen months after the complete specification has been lodged if, in truth, it has not already been accepted by the commissioner and for that reason laid open to public inspection. It is thought that, with the other amendments to which I have just made passing reference, this course will not involve consequences which an inventor cannot be asked to bear, whilst, on the other hand, it is thought that manufacturers can now be asked to take the risks of that period of eighteen months in connexion with the development or expansion of their manufacturing activities. To sum the matter up, under this bill the complete specification, as lodged’ by the inventor, must be made available for public inspection on the inventor’s request made at any time after the lapse of three months from the date on which the inventor lodged the document with the Patent Office, but, whether asked by the inventor or not, the commissioner will make, the documents open to public inspection eighteen months after they have been so lodged, unless they have been sooner accepted and are already open to public inspection.
As I said in opening, the solution of the problem as to when an application should be open to public inspection is the crux of this bill. There are, however, three other important steps taken in the bill, each of which can be regarded as providing part of the solution of that main problem, because each of these steps has some direct bearing on it, but each of which has also an importance over and beyond the problem of publication of the complete specification. The first of these three steps is to alter the law regarding the making of amendments to specifications; the second step is to extend the right given to an applicant to lodge a further application; the third step is to protect an applicant against a consequence of changes which he has made in the complete specification after its lodgment.
I propose to explain first the provisions that this bill makes regarding amendments of specifications. Section 49 of the present act allows an applicant to make amendments of his complete specification in an attempt to remove an examiner’s objections. There is, in section 49, no provision for the allowance of an amendment. As a result, the applicant, does not have the benefit of the examiner’s comments until after he makes his amendments, and if the application is open to public inspection and the amendments do not satisfy the examiner, the applicant may lose any rights to the matter which he discloses by the amendments and which may, in fact, constitute a valuable invention. This bill would ensure that an amendment would not, in these circumstances, be public until it had been examined and allowed. The power of an applicant to request an amendment otherwise than in answer to an examiner’s objection is, by clause 14 of this bill, made very wide, its only limitation before the application becomes open to public inspection really being that the applicant cannot make an amendment which goes beyond what he had originally disclosed in his complete specification.
I turn then to the second step, the extension of the power to lodge a further application. Under the patent law an inventor may claim, in any one application, a monopoly for only one invention, although he may claim that the monopoly should cover various manifestations of his invention. If an inventor, when he lodges his complete specification, is unaware of the significance of what he has discovered, he may disclose in his complete specification several inventions. Under section 51 of the present act, he may file a further application in respect of any of those inventions up to the time when the original application becomes open to public inspection. This bill will remake section 51 and will allow the applicant to file a further application at any time before acceptance, or the expiration of twelve months from the time when the original application becomes open to public inspection, whichever is the earlier. I will not trouble honorable members with other details connected with these two steps, as I have circulated with the bill a memorandum covering the technical aspects of the bill which 1 hope honorable members will find of great use in considering what is truly a highly technical measure, though one which has quite far-reaching effects in connexion with the development and expansion of secondary industries in this country.
The last of the matters to which I referred is the complete removal, by more than one provision of this bill, of any possibility, perhaps years after the grant of his letters patent, of the letters patent being held to be invalid, because of changes the applicant caused to be made in his documents, by way of amendment, whilst they were in the Patent Office.
Before the British Parliament set up a Patent Office in 1883, a divergence between what an inventor disclosed as a new method of manufacture and its description in the letters patent was of course of tremendous significance, there being no examination of his assertions. The consideration for a grant of a monopoly by letters patent is the disclosure to the public of the new and useful method of manufacture of the invention. Thus, if he disclosed one invention and received letters patent for a different invention, the consideration for the grant of the monopoly by the letters patent had not been given and the letters were void. One of the purposes of setting up the Patent Office was undoubtedly the desire to provide machinery which would ensure that the letters patent conformed to the disclosure.
Subsequently, the Law Courts refused to accept the view that the mere setting up of the Patent Office took from the courts the power to declare letters patent invalid for a divergence of the kind I have mentioned, for “ disconformity “ to use the lawyer’s jargon. Amendments were then made by the British Parliament to remove as a ground of invalidity disconformity between a provisional specification, the original and more tentative document of which I have already made mention, and the complete specification forming the basis of the final grant obtained. The result of this was that so long as there was no publication of the complete specification in its original form, the examination in the Patent Office became effective and in the result an inventor had added security. However, with the publication of the complete specification before its final acceptance, as in section 43 now, the possibility of invalidating letters patent for divergencies between the complete specification as first lodged, and as finally accepted, emerged and a new hazard for inventors was created.
Although the present act is somewhat different in structure in relevant respects from the former act, there still seems to be this possibility and this bill will remove it. This bill seems to me in this respect to carry out fully what, in truth, was the intention in setting up a Patent Office and a system of examination prior to the grant of letters patent. Under this bill, the allowance by the Patent Office of an amendment will be final, subject to two qualifications I shall mention, and there will be no risk to an inventor of his letters patent being invalidated because of the nature of amendments made to his complete specification during its course through the Patent Office.
The two qualifications that I have just mentioned are these: The first is that, if the acceptance of the amendments by the commissioner was induced by fraud, the letters patent can be set aside. The second is that, if it can be shown that an amendmend which was allowed by the commissioner truly resulted in giving the inventor something for which he did not apply in the first place, the letters patent, if they are not otherwise bad, will not be invalidated, but the tribunal before which the matter is being tested will be able to treat the date when the new matter was disclosed as the priority date of the invention.
Mr. Speaker, the memorandum I have circulated contains matter which is truly supplemental to this speech and, to avoid the tedium of giving this technical analysis, I ask for leave of the House to incorporate it in “ Hansard “ as part of this secondreading speech.
– Mr. Speaker, could this request be deferred until the AttorneyGeneral has completed his speech? I should like to make one or two points on this request before leave is granted.
– Very well, but I had arranged with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for leave to be given to incorporate the memorandum.
– Is leave granted?
– It will be granted at the end of the speech.
– In closing, I would repeat that this bill, though it is a technical measure, is not one that need concern only lawyers and patent attorneys. In a developing community such as ours, the encouragement and protection of inventors, and the attraction to overseas inventors to apply for protection in Australia, are of the greatest importance. I believe that the amendments to be made by this bill will contribute materially to those ends.
I hope that leave will be given to incorporate the memorandum, and in anticipation I thank the House for its indulgence. I commend the bill to honorable members.
– The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has asked for leave to incorporate a memorandum in “ Hansard “. Basically, I have no objection to the incorporation of the memorandum, but I think we should determine the principle that is involved. A memorandum was circulated with the income tax bill that was introduced immediately before this Patents Bill, but no proposal was made that it be incorporated in “ Hansard “. I think the principle we must determine is whether the memorandum is part of the bill or part of the second-reading speech. Yesterday, with some value I think, an Opposition member sought leave to incorporate part of a schedule to a bill and leave was given. The schedule contained information which would be of value to a person reading the debate; indeed, one would have some difficulty in following the debate without it. I do not resist the incorporation of this memorandum-
– It depends on the subjectmatter of the document.
– I think, Mr. Speaker, that you should look at the matter of principle involved1. This is not the first occasion on which a memorandum has been circulated with a bill, but to my knowledge this is the first occasion on which permission has been sought to incorporate the memorandum in “ Hansard “.
I merely note the different way in which the memorandum is being treated and suggest that some principle is involved. After all, a bill is not incorporated in “ Hansard “, but the details of it are discussed in committee. I agree with the Attorney-General that this is a matter of some complexity, and that his speech would be illuminated by the incorporation of the memorandum. I direct attention to what seems to me to be a departure from the usual ‘ procedure and ask you, Sir, as custodian of the House, to examine it as a matter of principle for the future. I would have had no objection if leave had been sought to incorporate in “ Hansard “ the memorandum that was circulated with the income tax legislation, but the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) did not seek leave to have it incorporated. He has not sought leave on other occasions to have such memorandums incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– I agree very largely with the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean).
– I think we had better put this procedure in order. The motion before the Chair is that the bill be read a second time.
– No, that is not correct. The motion before the Chair is that leave be granted to incorporate the memorandum.
– No, there is no such motion. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has, perhaps, made his point a little irregularly.
– It would have been most difficult if I had refused leave. I am trying to help the Attorney-General. I suggest that leave be given at this stage to argue the principle that is involved.
– If the honorable member for Lalor wants to make some comment, I suggest he obtain leave of the House to do so. He will then be in order.
– I merely wanted to speak on the request that the memorandum be incorporated in “ Hansard “.
Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta - Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General). - by leave - May I just make an explanation. In asking for leave to incorporate the memorandum in “ Hansard “, Mr. Speaker, I was quite conscious that I was doing something which perhaps was not usual. I have taken this course because the explanatory memorandum is more than a mere series of explanations of clauses such as one frequently sees in a memorandum designed to give assistance at the committee stage of a bill. I wrote for laymen, as it were, the part of my second-reading- speech which I have read. In the explanatory memorandum, a considerable part of the ground that I covered in the speech which I have read is traversed again, but it is expressed in much more technical language, because this bill, I am sure, will be perused by a number of men who have technical knowledge. It seemed to me that leaving this information to be given merely as a memorandum was not sufficient, because a memorandum of the usual kind would not necessarily go to those who would see the second-reading speech. Because this memorandum goes further than merely dealing with the clauses of the bill, I took the course of asking for leave to have it incorporated in “ Hansard “. This memorandum, in some sense, is the technical part of my second-reading speech - a part with which I did not wish to trouble the House.
– by leave- Mr. Speaker, it is rather unusual for a Minister to propose the incorporation in “ Hansard “ in this way of a memorandum explaining a bill. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) gave a general explanation of the bill in his second-reading speech. In the memorandum, there is a series of notes explaining the meaning of each of the clauses of the bill. Explanations of that kind, if not given by a Minister in his second-reading speech, are invariably given at the committee stage, when honorable members want to be informed fully about the exact meaning of particular provisions. This morning, the Attorney-General made a most unworthy suggestion about the Opposition’s action in proposing for discussion as a matter of urgency the question of constitutional reform. I suggest now - I hope that this suggestion is not as unworthy as was that made this morning by the Minister - that the real purpose behind the production of this memorandum and the request for leave to incorporate it in “ Hansard “ is to have the bill dealt with expeditiously and to avoid a long debate on it in committee.
This is a bill that will take a good deal of explaining. The Attorney-General has suggested that this is a technical bill and that the purpose of the memorandum is to help the experts. But were not the wool tax bills that were debated in this place last evening technical bills? If practices such as that now proposed are to be indulged in, would not the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) have been justified last evening in producing a memorandum and seeking leave to incorporate it in “ Hansard “ in order to relieve himself of the rather arduous task of explaining every clause and every technicality of the bills with which we were dealing?
– It is a pity that the Attorney-General did not read the memorandum to the House.
– Why should he not do so? Or why should he not make the appropriate explanations at the committee stage?
I have never known a detailed memorandum of this sort to be expressly used in this manner to give information that normally is given, broadly, in a second-reading speech and then elaborated at the committee stage. It is quite true that this bill deals with one of the most important factors in the life of the ‘community to-day - a factor which is becoming more important daily with the advance of science and the increasing dissemination of technological knowledge, the result of which, very frequently, is a further increase of pressure of business at the Patent Office. With a measure of this sort, which has considerable personal implications, it is imperative that this information, contained in the memorandum, instead of being hidden away in “ Hansard “ in material incorporated in this way, be given orally in more complete detail by the Minister in charge of the bill.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker.
– Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim that the honorable member for Lalor has misrepresented me. Before I introduced this bill, I arranged that it would not be debated during this sitting and that, before debating it, we should wait until the community could have a good look at it. This measure has novel features, and that is an additional reason, it seems to me, why the community, and especially some members of it who are highly-qualified technical people, should have the benefit of an opportunity to study this memorandum. I think that the hope of the honorable member for Lalor was in vain and that his suggestion was unworthy.
– 1 raise again the point that I raised earlier. Although we have no objection at this stage-
– Is this a second-reading speech?
– I ask for leave to make a statement on this point. I still have the ace up my sleeve, and I think that on this occasion-
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. I suggest that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports must seek leave of the House if he wishes to make a statement.
– I am asking for leave to do so.
– Order! The question of the incorporation of any material in “ Hansard “ is a matter for the unanimous approval of the House. The development of a full-scale debate now would be contrary to the Standing Orders. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports wants to make any further comment on the matter, he will have to have the leave of the House to do so.
– I am asking the House for leave to make a statement.
– by leave - This matter is of some importance, Mr. Speaker. I bring to your attention the fact that the memorandum in question, at least up to page nine, contains material which amplifies the second-reading speech made by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and saves him, as it were, from going into legal precendents and the like. Pages nine and ten in fact contain notes on particular clauses of the bill. I agree with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) about the novelty of this procedure. This is the first occasion that I have known on which permission to incorporate information such as this in “ Hansard “ as part of a second-reading speech has been sought. I repeat that we on this side do not intend to refuse leave, but I think that, .before leave is given, the House ought to know what it is doing and to take note of what it is doing. You, Sir, also, should note it for future occasions, and I suggest that the Minister and his ministerial colleagues, too, should note it. We have seen a growing tendency, especially on the part of the Attorney-General, to think that time is saved by the kind of procedure now proposed. At the same time, a procedure such as this cuts across verylongestablished parliamentary precedents. I do not like to see those precedents lightly set aside, because, silly though one may think them to be, they do not appear to be so silly when one looks more deeply into them.
– The question is that leave be given to incorporate the memorandum in “ Hansard “. There being no dissentient voice, leave is granted.
Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta - Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General). - by leave - 1 present the explanatory memorandum for incorporation in “ Hansard “.
PATENTS BILL 1962.
The purpose of this statement is to explain some of the reasons for the amendments proposed by the Patents Bill 1962 and the nature of the proposed amendments. Tn order to simplify the statement, I have grouped the amendments according to their nature and have explained them in their respective groups but a table showing the clauses of the bill in numerical order is attached and gives an index to where each clause is covered in the main statement.
For the purposes of this statement, the provisions of the bill can be grouped under five main headings -
The bill proposes to amend the act, in relation to the time when an application and complete specification become open to public inspection, in two respects -
The main reason for this is that, since the 1960 act, section 42 has not had to refer to a complete specification becoming open to public inspection other than by acceptance. Under the present bill, complete specifications can become open to public inspection at the applicant’s request before expiry of the twelve months mentioned in section 42. The section is remade accordingly to allow for this possibility.
Clause 9 inserts sub-sections (1.) and (2.) of section 54a, as explained above. It also inserts -
Provisions regarding amendments of complete specifications, and regarding “divisonal” or “further” applications.
Provisions regarding “disconformity”.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
– I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 20).]
Mr. Chairman, the tariff proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961, and give effect to the Government’s decision following receipt of the Tariff Board report on electric clocks and parts, including movements therefor. This report arose directly from a recommendation by a deputy chairman in May, 1961, for the imposition of temporary duties. The rates now proposed supersede the temporary duties then imposed.
In accordance with the Tariff Board’s recommendation, protection is being accorded to synchronous motor - electric clocks of the type manufactured in Australia, movements therefor and parts for such movements. This level of protection is equivalent to that recommended by the deputy chairman in May, 1961. On some types of other electric clocks the temporary duties are being removed. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the House a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Electric clocks and parts, including movements therefor.
I also lay on the table of the House a report by the Tariff Board on the subject: -
Fabric dress gloves.
This does not call for any legislative action. The board’s findings in both instances have been accepted by the Government.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed from 11th April (vide page 1603), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Last night, when the proceedings of the House were not being broadcast, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) presented the views of the Opposition on the bill that we are now discussing. I am sorry that the proceedings were not being broadcast, because the honorable member put forward a very fine case for the Opposition. Although we do not oppose the bill, there are points in it on which our views and those of the Government are not parallel.
– How many sheep are there in your electorate?
– There are some hundreds of thousands. The honorable member may be interested to know that the finest wool in Australia is grown in my electorate. This season, the highest price received was about 700d. per lb. The topclass fine merino wool grown there always brings from 500d. to 600d. per lb. In fact, wool growing is one of the most important features of my electorate. When I say, Mr. Speaker, in further answer to the honorable member for Perth, that there is in my electorate one property of 85,000 acres and that there are others of 64,000 acres, 40,000 acres, 30,000 acres, 25,000 acres, 20,000 acres and 15,000 acres, the supporters of the Australian Country Party will begin to appreciate that Tasmania is bigger than they think it is.
The purpose of this bill is to continue for a further period of twelve months the wool promotion levy of 10s. a bale. The proceeds of the levy amount to approximately £2,500,000 in a full year. Last year the Government, supported by the Opposition, increased the rate of the levy from 5s. to 10s. a bale for the first time. The history of the levy is most interesting. It goes back to 1936, when a levy of 6d. a bale was imposed for promotional purposes. In 1945, the levy was increased to 2s. a bale. That was when the Australian Labour Party was in office. In 1952, it was again increased, to 4s. a bale, and in 1960, to 5s. a bale. In August, 1961, legislation was passed by the Parliament to increase it to 10s. a bale, and we are now proposing to continue the levy at that rate.
Why is the bill that is now before the House necessary? The reasons for its introduction are the same as those that operated last year when we increased the levy to 10s. a bale. Generally speaking, the wool-growers support this measure, although they alone are paying the levy. Not a penny comes from Commonwealth funds for this promotional purpose. Though I say that the growers generally approve of the levy at the rate of 10s. a bale being continued for a second year, they are not all in favour of it by any means. Last night, the honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill) stated during the debate on this bill-
At the beginning of the year, the wool section of the Farmers Union of Western Australia held a conference. This union represents the growers of 82 per cent, of the wool grown in Western Australia. They were not satisfied with the report that has been referred to.
That is, the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry -
They were prepared to meet representatives of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation in Melbourne for further discussions . . . The conference of the wool section of the Farmers Union passed a resolution in the following terms: -
Conference emphatically rejects the proposals to contribute increased levies for wool promotion until the implementation of a marketing Reserve Price Plan and instructs its delegates to the forthcoming Federation Conference to strongly oppose extension beyond June, 1962, of the increase of 5s. per bale agreed to for the current year. 1 then interjected, “That is our amendment to the bill “. The honorable member said -
If it is, I hope honorable members will bear in mind that most of the wool-growers have agreed to this levy.
I interjected, “Why did you read out that resolution, then? “ and the honorable member said -
Because it happens to be the view of the woolgrowers in my electorate.
I again interjected, “You are not unanimous “. Of course, they are not unanimous. The small wool-growers of Australia have had a lot of pressure put on them to agree to the continuation of the levy at the rate of 10s. a bale. I can understand why that has been so. The big growers can afford to pay the levy much more easily than can the small growers. That is axiomatic. Many of the small growers are returned servicemen. They feel that it is too much to ask them to continue to pay the levy at the increased rate for a second year.
The first reason for the introduction of this bill, therefore, is that the majority of growers, shall we say, approve of it. Secondly, the International Wool Secretariat needs money for the fight to promote wool as a fabric, and thirdly, competition from the synthetics, such as nylon and acrilan, is still very strong. In fact, the struggle against the synthetics goes on day and night. During the 1950’s there was an appalling complacency in the Australian wool industry towards synthetics, and only in the last few years has the industry begun to appreciate the inroads that synthetics have made in various fields of cloth fabrication in the United States of America. It is all very well to say that we sell every bale of our wool and that therefore we can drift into a lovely, somnolent state of complacency and not worry about the synthetic fibres that are being evolved.
Some members of the Australian Country Party in this House are wearing ties made of a kind of silicon material, called savlon. These ties are very popular at the moment, but the people who wear them are not helping our wool industry. I quite agree that they are very well-made ties and quite colourful. They are made from a fantastic fabric, and this fabric will probably improve as time goes on. lt is not woven from nylon or from acrilan or from any synthetic material of that kind, but from a kind of processed glass, if you please!
– How do you know?
– I have seen the ties and inspected them closely, and I have asked about them. I hope you are not wearing one, because you are a member of the Country Party and you may have three or four sheep in your electorate.
Members of the Country Party are wearing nylon shirts. These are the people who represent woolgrowers and farmers. If you had a look at their ankles you would find they were wearing nylon socks. I am quite convinced that we need this legislation to provide for wool promotion, if only to convince the members of the Country Party that wool is still a mighty fabric.
Before I was rudely interrupted I was saying that during the 1950’s synthetics crept up on wool like a thief in the night, and now the wool industry is really concerned. It is really aroused, and so it has been found necessary to continue the 10s. a bale promotion levy for the second year. When it was introduced last year there was no indication that it would be continued for a second year. The fact that it is to be continued shows that the wool industry has at last become aware of the inroads that synthetics have been making in the textile industry throughout the world. Sir William Gunn waged a terrific campaign in 1960-61 to convince the growers that it was necessary to raise the levy from 5s. to 10s. a bale. He succeeded, but only very narrowly. In some areas the vote was very close indeed, particularly in the western district of Victoria. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation as a whole opposed the levy, and still opposes it, just as it opposed the recommendations of the committee of inquiry. Many small growers felt that the proposal to increase the levy was a kind of cover-up, a smokescreen to distract attention from the marketing plan that they wished to have implemented, and which the committee was appointed to investigate. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), in a speech which he made on 24th November, 1960, made some very pertinent remarks about this matter. He said: -
I emphasize that I believe in promotion, but why does the press periodically - weekly, and sometimes almost daily - stress the need for wool use promotion and for advertising our wonderful Australian wool, but print devil a word about the fact that large sections of primary producers are urging the country to do something more satisfactory in the way of providing efficient marketing organizations for this great product?
He was concerned at the possibility that this levy was a cover-up, to draw attention away from the need for a proper organized marketing scheme for the wool industry. Many growers were of the same mind.
How was the money raised by this levy spent last year? On this point there is absolute silence from honorable members opposite. I do not think anybody in this House can give a precise answer to the question. I do not think even the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) can give it. I would like to see a balance sheet showing how the money was spent. It is the growers’ money and the growers have a right to know how it has been spent, how much went for administrative costs and how much was spent on actual promotion. This is what we want to know, and if the Minister is going to reply in this debate this evening I would like him to give some details on this vital point.
What is there to show for what has been already spent of this amount of £2,500,000 which was raised by the levy of 10s. a bale last year? What fields of promotion have been exploited? Many things have been said about promotion in this chamber and outside it. Is the battle being taken right into the home of the synthetics, both abroad and at home? There are two important fields of promotion. There is Australia itself and there are our overseas markets.
What mediums have been used in our promotion activities? We know that television, films and journals have been used to telling effect, but have other fields unknown to us, also been explored? We have seen some of the excellent films produced by the Australian Wool Bureau dealing with fashions in woollen textiles. One film that was produced last year was probably the finest documentary film ever produced anywhere. Those of us who saw it, in cinemascope and in colour, were thrilled and proud of our great wool industry, and of the scientists and technicians who have made wool so attractive. They have made possible the production of woollen fabrics of so many kinds and in so many shades that young women are now keen to wear wool although a few years ago they would have turned up their noses at the very thought of wearing it. I hope that film will be shown all over the world as part of our promotion campaign.
Japan is an example of the countries overseas where promotion is needed. Japan has made significant economic growth since the war. In 1949 the average Japanese family income was £A.142 annually, while in 1959 it had risen to £A.347. The Japanese spend a large proportion of their income on clothing. There is a trend towards western fashions, and the Japanese are very fabric-conscious. Wool is favoured because it has a smooth and silky touch. The climate favours the use of wool, the winters being very severe. There is a growing market in Japan for blankets and carpets. Permanent pleating of woollen garments is very popular, and pleated skirts are commonly worn. The Japanese even make kimonos of wool.
Our exports of greasy wool to Japan increased from 195,000 bales in 1950 to 1,008,000 bales in 1960. Most of this was in fine wool. This shows an increase of about 800 per cent, in ten years. No other country in the world can show anything like that kind of increase in the buying of Australian wool.
There is, however, a colossal amount of activity in the field of synthetics in Japan, and there is wide scope for wool promotion. Huge sums are being spent to promote synthetics. One manufacturer alone is spending more on promotion than is being spent by the whole of the wool industry. About £2,000,000 has been spent to undermine local opposition to synthetics. As the big oil companies use their fighting funds to keep others out of the field, so £2,000,000 has been spent already to knock over local opposition to synthetics in Japan. The financial resources that are being applied to the promotion of synthetics are so great that price-cutting by synthetics manufactures could occur in Japan. This could affect the wool intake, because synthetics would be sold at a much lower price than wool if a price war occurred in Japan. Wool promotion activities there cannot be relaxed for a moment. What are we doing to promote the sale and use of wool in Japan? Is any of this levy money being spent in Japan? If we are to maintain our exports of wool to Japan, the wool promotion campaign there must be greatly stepped up.
I claim that there is a vital link between market availability and wool promotion. Without promotion, a market can decline. Without promotion, a market can remain static. Promotion is the commando force in wool marketing. Promotion must be in the vanguard in successful marketing. We are trying to discuss wool marketing in this debate because it is vitally concerned with wool promotion. We are troubled at the way in which the debate is being narrowed down on this point by the Chair. Promotion must be in the vanguard in marketing. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said on 24th November, 1960, as reported at page 3273 of “ Hansard “-
If there is no satisfactory wool promotion, there will be no satisfactory wool marketing.
That puts the matter in a nutshell. I think we should have a report from the International Wool Secretariat on how this money is spent in Australia and overseas. The growers should know about it also.
Perhaps I can refer in passing to the reserve price plan for the selling of wool. The committee of inquiry that was established to investigate the wool industry published the results of its activities in a very big document, containing about 400 pages. The report dealt with wool promotion but it had nothing to say about wool marketing. Marketing will stay as it is, so far as that committee of inquiry is concerned. The committee made no visits to New Zealand or South Africa, where the reserve price scheme has been so successful. It sent one man to those countries and relied on this report. The committee members went all around the world, visiting other countries, but they did not go to the countries where the reserve price scheme has been so successful. We want to try to improve the marketing side of the wool industry in order that the promotion side-
– Order! I suggest to the honorable member that he has now made sufficient reference to the marketing of wool.
– I have still a little more to say.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member get on to wool promotion.
– We must reduce the fluctuations of wool prices, for one thing. We on this side of the House believe that the committee of inquiry has advanced no solution to that problem. I believe that much of the trouble in the wool industry is caused by the disunity of the woolgrowers. That is a fundamental weakness. lt is the Achilles heel of the industry. There are two main organizations running the industry - the Australian Wool-Growers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. The federation has 40,000 wool-growers among its members, mainly the small men, while the Australian Wool-Growers Council consists mainly of the big graziers. There are too many voices speaking for the wool industry. There is too much dictation by brokers. Too many speculators are- operating at the vital marketing or selling end. This great industry is at the mercy of price manipulators, buying rings and so on. Those are the people who really run the industry at the vital end.
The industry controls its:lf right up to the point where it starts to sell its wool, and then it loses control. The growers should control their own industry, which should be protected from price manipulators and interlocking speculative concerns. Other primary producers in this country are united. They have their stabilization and marketing schemes, which dovetail very well with their promotion schemes. I think that a great deal of the effect of wool promotion campaigns is offset by the bad marketing system, by the uncertain and insecure marketing of wool. If you have a good marketing scheme, you can work with great confidence on the promotion side. Other industries have their stabilization schemes. The wheat men have a stabilization scheme which gives security and stability to an industry that previously was at the mercy of boom and bust, of dictation by bankers and of market manipulation. The dairying industry has its dairy products marketing plan. There is the Apple and Pear Board to deal with the marketing side of fruit-growing. The sugar industry is organized on the marketing side, and so are the egg industry and the dried fruits industries. Those industries have highly-organized, effective and centrally-controlled organizations on the marketing side. When it comes to promotion, they have a solid and secure basis to work from. The wool industry, which supplies 40 per cent, of our exports, has no organized marketing scheme, and that reacts badly on promotion. The industry is still subject to the law of the jungle and is wide open to speculators.
We propose to move an amendment, but it may not be accepted by the Chair. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill) read it out last night, in effect. As I began my speech this afternoon, 1 explained that the resolution passed by the Farmers Union of Western Australia was the amendment which we will move in this chamber. We believe that the growers should have the right to decide on marketing plans, as a democratic principle. They have decided on this promotion scheme, and have voted on it throughout the country. Sir William Gunn has been very active in getting their support for a promotion scheme, but he has done very little about a marketing scheme.
– He is a big shot in the wool industry.
– I know he is, but that does not excuse him for concentrating on one side of the wool industry alone. He runs away from marketing like some one running away from the Commissioner of Taxation. What constructive statement has Sir William made in the last two years about an improved marketing scheme for the wool industry?
– Order! I suggest again that the honorable member for Wilmot is going a little wide of the bill.
– I admit that you have been very kind to me, Sir. I believe that the growers should decide whether they want a free auction system, a restricted auction system-
– Order! I again remind the honorable member that the subject he is discussing has no relation to the bill before the House at the moment-
– We had the same trouble last year. If you read “ Hansard “, as I did this afternoon before I finished preparing this speech, you will see that there were a lot of interjections from the Chair when the member for Lalor was speaking then. The Chair let him go a certain distance, however. He felt that there was a certain relationship between marketing and promotion. The Chair granted us some latitude last night and this afternoon, and I hope that will continue.
– I was muzzled last night.
– The honorable member for Lalor says he was muzzled on this issue last night. 1 think that a little latitude is absolutely necessary on this occasion. You cannot think of marketing without thinking of promotion, and you cannot think of promotion without thinking of marketing. They are definitely part and parcel of the one thing. You have been very fair to me this afternoon, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that you will be just as fair to my colleagues who will follow me in this debate, including the honorable members for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) and Hume (Mr. Fuller). I hope that they will be able to make statements similar to mine on this very difficult bill.
We agree with the promotion scheme because the growers have agreed to it, although only by a majority decision. Last night the honorable member for Canning made one or two interesting points to which I wish to refer. He referred to an economic survey that was conducted for the Australian Wool Bureau by Personnel Administration Proprietary Limited, which must be a private investigating authority. He said that the report by that company is a confidential document. He went on to say last night -
I do not think it is contrary to normal business practices for a confidential report to be reserved to the organization most vitally concerned with it. I inform the honorable member that I also tried to obtain a copy of the document but was unsuccessful.
I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Canning say that. Why is this document so secret? Why was he not able to obtain a copy of it? After all, he represents a very big electorate in Western Australia and many of his electors are woolgrowers. Despite that, he could not obtain a copy of the report on the economic survey conducted by this private investigating organization.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the House is debating the Wool Tax Assessment Bill 1962. The purpose of the bill is to continue for a further twelve months the levy of 10s. a bale for wool promotion in Australia and research and promotion overseas. This levy was asked for originally about twelve months ago by the growers’ representatives, and the extension of the levy has been agreed upon by the growers’ representatives once again. They have asked the Government to re-introduce this legislation. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) asked, “ Why is this bill necessary? “ The answer is that the legislation, when originally introduced, was to operate for a period of only twelve months. That meant that the moment that period of twelve months expired the industry would revert to the levy of 5s. a bale unless an agreement had been arrived at between the growers’ organizations. As all honorable members know, the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry was not produced as early as was thought possible, for a variety of reasons. One reason was the tragic death of one of the people who were working on this inquiry. Consequently, it has not been possible for the wool-growers’ organizations to come to an agreement on the amount of the levy that is necessary before the next wool-selling season. Therefore, at the request of the growers, the Government is re-introducing this legislation in order to extend the levy of 10s. a bale for a further period of twelve months.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who led for the Opposition in this debate last night, took the line that we expected him to take. This afternoon the honorable member for Wilmot has taken the same line, with the possible exception that he mentioned promotion whereas I doubt whether the honorable member for Lalor did. Both of them, of course, were skating on very thin ice. They were trying to discuss the marketing side rather than the promotion side of the wool industry.
– Are they not linked?
– I will agree that there is a certain link between them; but in my mind, and I am sure in the mind of every one who is studying the industry closely, there is no doubt whatsoever, as the report of the committee of inquiry brings out, that promotion offers far greater scope for improving the demand for wool than marketing does. Neither in the speech of the honorable member for Lalor nor in that of the honorable member for Wilmot was there a word about the necessity for or the advantages of wool promotion. They seem to have the fantastic idea that we sell all the wool that we produce every year; so, if we promote the sale of wool we cannot sell any more and we will not receive any more money for our wool. That is a most fantastic idea of wool marketing because, quite obviously, it is the demand for wool, not. whether we sell all our wool, that makes a difference in the price that we receive. I tell the honorable member for Lalor, as I have mentioned in this chamber before, that the same sort of thing happens in every type of auction sale. The honorable member should know that because he is a sheep man and occasionally sells stock. He knows that the price of sheep fluctuates violently, depending on the demand for them. I have been to sales at which every sheep that was for sale was sold; but that does not mean the prices were satisfactory to the people who sold the sheep.
I have told the honorable member for Lalor on a previous occasion that I can recall attending a sheep sale during a very severe drought in the Riverina. We had been having terrific dust storms. The sheep were in very poor condition. In one pen there were 140 old cracker ewes. The auctioneer said, “ Can I get a penny each for these sheep anywhere? “ But there was no bid. He looked through the dust and no one was looking his way. He could not even put in a bid because he knew that if he did he would be left with the sheep. Eventually he said, “ Can I get £1 for the lot? “ and one fellow said, “ Righto, I will give you £1 for the lot “. It was not until after the sheep had been knocked down to that fellow that he realized that £1 for the lot was equivalent to almost 2d. a head.
The honorable member for Lalor says that we can look at this system and say that all that is wrong is the marketing. What that really means in the example I have given is that it would not have done any good if 2 inches of rain had fallen the week before the sale because all the sheep were sold and therefore the owners would not have received any more money for the sheep. That is a ludicrous statement. It is quite obvious that the demand for wool, the demand for stock or the demand for any other commodity fixes its price. The mere fact that all of the product is sold does not mean that it is sold at satisfactory prices. That was pointed out at great length by the committee of inquiry that was set up by the Government.
If honorable members opposite take the opportunity to read the committee’s report, I am sure that they will see the stress that is laid on promotion. In one part of its report the committee says - . . promotion, which, broadly speaking, includes textile and market research, is the most promising means open to growers whereby world demand for wool can be stimulated. Effective promotion is costly, but in our view growers’ leviable resources would be better directed to its achievement than to the introduction of a reserve price scheme.
The report also states -
No marketing system . . . can alter the fact that world demand is the fundamental factor affecting the price of wool.
We should take some cognizance of such statements because promotion is essential if the wool industry is to compete with the synthetics industries which spend about £50,000,000 or £60,000,000 a year on promotion whereas we, through the International Wool Secretariat, spend £3,100,000 annually.
Promotion can sell almost anything. The managing director of a firm once said: “We can produce either a first-class article for £1 and hope that it will sell itself, or an article for 16s. and spend 4s. on promoting it and sell many more of it” . The Americans have shown that promotion can sell almost anything. In their textile and synthetics industries the Americans have shown that it does not matter what the commodity is like, if it is advertised enough on the middle pages of “ Life “ and similar magazines with magnificent coloured advertisements it will sell. By the time some one wakes up to the fact that the fabric is not as wonderful as the advertisements said it was, a new miracle fibre has been produced - something that is woollier than wool. And so it goes on. Promotion will sell almost anything.
One American salesman is reputed to have sold a refrigerator to an Eskimo because he told the Eskimo that it would prevent the butter going hard. Promotion is modern salesmanship. Promotion is the one thing that will sell any commodity, but it must be allied with research. Because it realizes this, the International Wool Secretariat has been doing a vast amount of work on promotion. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) asks what this organization has been doing. If he is interested enough to peruse the reports of the Australian Wool Bureau, the International Wool Secretariat, the Wool Bureau Incorporated, in New York, and the many other organizations that have been set up throughout the world, he will find that they have been doing a tremendous amount of work in connexion with research and promoting the sale of wool.
– Are they using the promotion money supplied under this bill in the fields you have just mentioned?
– Yes. This year, I think, Australia’s contribution to the International Wool Secretariat was £1,600,000. That came out of the funds raised under the existing act, the extension of which we are discussing now. In Australia, we spent £400,000 on promotion. I think that Australia’s contribution of £1,600,000 was just on 62 per cent, of the International Wool Secretariat’s funds. By means of this levy, we raised £2,500,000 on 5,000,000 bales of wool last year and £400,000 of that money was spent in Australia on promotion.
I agree with the honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill), who said last night that it is no good just seeing that the money is spent and that we must ensure that it is spent wisely. Frankly, I must say that there have been times when the way in which the money has been spent in Australia by the Australian Wool Bureau has left me quite cold. I do not know whether honorable members have seen the advertisement appearing in to-day’s issue of the Sydney “ Sun “, but, frankly, I think it is a complete waste of money. It may have some appeal to teenagers or some one else who has a different view from mine about the use of wool, but I ask honorable members to listen to this -
Go gay in wool’s brighter bon-bon colours.
Woolknits in parfait, licorice, coconut ice, angelica . . colours that make drab old winter gay as sunny Spain!
All the famous knitwear people have gone Bon Bon in pure wool.
Frankly, I have not the faintest idea what going bon-bon is! The advertisement continues -
Choose warm, soft, weather-defying cardigans and sweaters - mix and match with wool separates.
To me, that does not mean anything. “ Mix and match with wool separates “ is quite beyond me. Is “ separates “ a noun or a verb? The advertisement continues -
Go gay, go Bon Bon, go Wool.
Styles here are typical of what you’ll see in the shops.
Make the poncho in wool jersey (delicious in bon bon pink).
Does any one here know what a poncho is? Is it not time that we got back to a responsible advertising organization? At one time the Wool Bureau employed Walter J. Thompson’s, a world-wide organization. It ranks amongst the best advertising agencies to be found anywhere in the world. But the Wool Bureau sacked the firm, and this advertisement is the sort of stuff we get now! I do not think we are getting anything out of the expenditure on this kind of advertising.
– It may have an appeal to the women.
– It may have an appeal to the teenagers and the women, but it does not appeal to me. I have discussed it with some women and they have not been able to see any more in that kind of advertising than I can see.
Obviously, if the wool industry is to go ahead it must go ahead through research and by making finer articles out of wool as well as by discovering ways and means of equalizing synthetics. We must realize that there are some fields in which synthetic fibre is equal to or superior to wool fibre. One great advantage synthetics have is that they are “ easy wear “ or “ easy care “. You just throw them into the Bendix, hang them up to dry and wear them. Admittedly, the fabrics look as if they have been just thrown into the Bendix, but apparently many of the Americans that one sees, certainly those in New York, do not mind looking like that. The better ones who wear wool are well turned out, but there is a tremendous tendency now - I noticed it more in New York than in Australia - to have this easy care or sloppy look. Some Americans wear dacron, which is a synthetic, but the one big advantage about it is that it can be washed and worn and it is shrinkproof. Some of the funds to be raised under this bill will be used for research, but, of course, only abroad. I think honorable members realize that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is financed out of the Wool Research Trust Fund. Its money does not come from this levy of 10s. a bale which has been imposed on the grower.
Already tremendous strides have been made in improving wool as a textile. In thelast ten years we have seen in Australia and throughout the rest of the world the development of such things as the siromark, and permanent creasing. Unfortunately, the permanent creasing was not well handled. It was introduced too early. Some of the textile manufacturers were not certain of the correct process and as a result many pleated skirts and trousers which had been treated had to be recalled because they were not satisfactory. After that, it took some time before permanent creasing was put into full operation. That is why the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry recommended, and people have been saying for quite a long time, that it is of no use just having a research side, that you must have what may be termed a salesman scientist who takes a new idea to the textile manufacturer, sells it to him, stays with him and shows him how to carry out the process so that when one of the new improved woollen textiles goes on to the market it will be a complete success.
There have been many improvements in shrinkproofing in recent years. There are now something like eighteen different methods of shrinkproofing wool, but, unfortunately, most of them are not being used because many of them have not been evaluated. Because of this, many wool manufacturers would not be able to give an opinion about what is the best shrinkproofing process. Only recently the discovery of another shrinkproofing method was claimed in America. That is the sort of work that should be done with this money. It should be used for the purpose of evaluating and assessing the various methods evolved in order that the manufacturer may be given some guidance concerning the process which will give him the greatest return. In addition to shrinkproofing, the Si-ro-nized or no-iron material and scourable branding fluids have been developed. In fact, tremendous results have been achieved in .one way or another. Mothproofing has also been developed. At one time, people held the belief that hospital blankets could not be boiled. We have now developed a process which has enabled hospital blankets to be boiled from 200 to 300 times without felting or shrinking. All these things are great achievements which must increase the use of wool, but their development must go hand in hand with a promotion campaign for selling the advantages of these new scientific processes to the public.
Another system invented by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization was the Noble comb controller. Previously, to use it, a man had to be in attendance on the comber permanently and unfortunately it is not being used to anything like the extent it should be. I repeat that the question is not merely one of promotion but one of research, the development of scientistsalesmen and the co-ordination of the many bodies working in various fields. I am assured that there is considerable overlapping. It is a pity that we could not get some authority which could co-ordinate the work of wool textile research throughout the world, which would be able to say, in effect, to one country, “ You do this type of work,” and to another, “ You do this.” We in Australia could carry out a certain type of research and someone else could carry out another type. Many people are undoubtedly overlapping and doing the same sort of work, with the result that money is being wasted.
One remarkable aspect of the attitude of the Opposition came out in the speeches of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr.
Pollard) and the honorable member for Wilmot. They both said that they supported the bill but that the Labour Party would move an amendment. We find out that the amendment is the proposal of the Farmers Union of Western Australia. The resolution passed by the Farmers Union in Western Australia is a complete negation of the bill.
How on earth can honorable members opposite support the bill and at the same time support an amendment which will negative the bill? The resolution of the Western Australian body is to the effect that it does not want the 10s. levy but wants the 5s. levy and that it is going to have the 5s. levy until the system of marketing is altered. It is extraordinary to see members of the Opposition supporting a resolution of that sort when they must realize that the chief wool-growing organizations have asked for this increased levy.
The only people to bring forward this contrary resolution are members of the Farmers Union of Western Australia. With all due deference to my colleague from Canning (Mr. McNeill) I think I can say that the Farmers Union of Western Australia is controlled by a few cranks who cannot see beyond their noses. They have this one fixed idea that if an alteration is made to the wool-marketing system everything will be all right. They have been saying that for years, but they have never got anywhere, and are never likely to get anywhere with a floor-priced scheme. The Opposition brings forward this resolution notwithstanding that growers in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia voted in favour of a levy of 10s. The only other State that voted in favour of the resolution moved in Western Australia was Queensland. If one asks the Farmers Union if there are any members of the organization in Queensland, the reply is “Yes, there are seventeen “. Yet the Opposition says seriously that two States voted for the resolution.
How the Opposition can say it is supporting this measure and yet intends to move an amendment which will bring about the completely opposite effect, by halving the funds available to the Australian Wool Bureau for promotion, I do not know. An attempt is being made by the honorable member for Lalor and the honorable member for Wilmot - I deplore it - to undermine the inquiry which has been held. At the time the inquiry was initiated every one was in favour of it. I have not heard one word spoken against the people who were members of the committee of inquiry - people of great ability, impeccable integrity and impartiality. It seems to have been the thought of some people who are mad on a floor price plan that this inquiry was some sort of machine. All you had to do was to feed in your material and go round to the back of the machine and pull out the answer that you wanted. When these people went round to the back of the machine and pulled out the answer they found it was not the one they wanted. Because of that they are going out of their way to try to find means of running down the committee of inquiry.
The honorable member for Wilmot said that the committee should have gone to New Zealand and South Africa, lt did send some one there, but in any case what was the good of going there? There is ample evidence of how the floor price plan has worked in those two places. There was no need for the committee to go there; it would have been only a holiday for its members. Representatives of New Zealand and South Africa were in Australia fairly recently for a meeting of the International Wool Secretariat. Any necessary information could have been obtained from them then.
An attempt has been made to undermine and debunk the inquiry. The honorable member for Lalor said that a royal commission should have been set up. He knows perfectly well that the growers were told that they could have a royal commission or an inquiry. The honorable member for Canning pointed that out last night. They chose a simple inquiry because there is a very much better atmosphere about an inquiry. People can voluntarily give evidence, whereas at a royal commission they have to give evidence on oath, with the result that they become worried and are not prepared to put their views forward. I for one feel certain that it was a good idea to have an inquiry and not a royal commission, from which many people would keep away. They would know that they would have to give evidence on oath at a royal commission.
As it was, many of my constituents voluntarily gave evidence. A number of people had discussions with the committee on, I am sure, a much better basis than would have been the case had the inquiry been in the form of a royal commission. In fact, one of the troubles of the inquiry was that so many people wanted to give evidence, because the committee said -
We have been much impressed with the readiness of many persons to express confident opinions on subjects with no knowledge, or with inadequate knowledge, of the relevant facts. Such facts can be determined only by prolonged unbiased inquiry.
The Opposition should take that to heart. They are very ready to make suggestions although they have no knowledge of the facts. If they did really understand the facts I think it would be good for them and for the country.
– The purpose of this bill is to extend for twelve months from July the present payment by wool-growers of a levy of 10s. a bale on all wool shorn in Australia. An immediate comment on the genuineness of the Government’s desire to promote wool against synthetics is that at the same time as it legislated to increase the levy from 5s. to 10s. it enabled, by by-law, the entry into Australia of nylon yarn at a 7i per cent, duty instead of the scheduled duty of 50 per cent.
That decision of the Government to reduce, by by-law, the duty on nylon yarn to 7± per cent, instead of the scheduled 50 per cent, was not received with one word of protest from any member of the Australian Country Party in this Parliament. Unfortunately for the wool industry, the representatives of secondary industry in Australia - the Associated Chambers of Manufactures - exercise more power over the decisions of the Country Party than does any organization of primary producers.
I join issue immediately with the honorable member for Farrar (Mr. Fairbairn) in some of his remarks while preceding me in this debate. He declared that it was the demand for a commodity which finally fixed its price. This may be true in the sense that it is the demand at the actual sale of a product which fixes its price. But it is certainly not true to say that merely by stimulating the demand for woollen goods in every shop in the world the price of wool to the producer will be increased.
You can stimulate, by promotion, the demand’ for woollen goods and still leave the grower at the mercy of forces organized to depress prices. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in citing some figures last night made it plain that, in some circumstances, the grower of wool may receive a depressed price while the eventual sellers of the product, by a series of marketing arrangements, are able to fix high mark-ups and obtain high profits. This final price for the woollen product has no relation to the price received by the grower while the price received by the grower is artificially fixed. It is for that reason, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Opposition has asserted in this debate that promotion cannot be separated from marketing. Promotion, by itself, can be entirely ineffective in producing an increased return for the growers. Promotion can be of great value to the wool-growing industry if - and only if - a system of organized marketing is established whereby a reserve price auction plan exists and whereby there is some assurance that the buyer will obtain for his product its true value in the markets of the world.
I regret very much that there should be in this House a member such as the honorable member for Farrer who, in advance of his years, is such an old fuddy-duddy that he does not appreciate the meaning - which I am sure everybody else in the House recognized at once - of the language of the advertisement which he quoted promoting the sale of wool. I was astonished indeed at his statement - and he made it rather scornfully as though it were of no importance - that this advertisement might be calculated to appeal to teen-agers and to women and, in his words, “that kind of thing”. Of course, teen-agers and women hold a very great part of the purchasing power in the market for woollen goods in Australia and in all parts of the world. Advertising agents are wise indeed in any marketing campaign to employ the language which teen-agers and’ women understand. As the Minister for Primary
Industry (Mr. Adermann) would know as well as I do, there is a particular language which women understand and which teenagers understand. I am sorry that the honorable member for Farrer is apparently unaware of that language. He is a considerable loser by not understanding it.
The honorable member for Farrer went on to say that the wool industry could go ahead only through promotion and research to enable wool products to compete with synthetic products. I have already contrasted this legislation with the action of the Government in greatly reducing the duties on nylon yarn. I now again answer the honorable member’s argument by pointing out that all the promotion and research in the world will be of no real advantage to the wool-grower by enabling wool products to compete with synthetic products, unless the present fetters are removed from the industry and it is given power to organize itself and to establish a system of selling under which it can obtain the true value of the product which it has for sale.
The honorable member for Farrer proceeded to discuss an amendment which, so far, has not been moved in this House. I was very glad, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you gave him full freedom to discuss this amendment which has not yet been moved because it encourages me to believe that you will give me equal freedom to discuss it when it is actually moved. But I must immediately join issue with the honorable member for Farrer on his declaration that the passage of the amendment would halve the funds available to the Australian Wool Bureau for promotion. The foreshadowed amendment of course, would have no such effect.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for EdenMonaro, in case there may be some misconception, that the honorable member for Farrer did not discuss completely, nor was he given freedom to discuss, an amendment which it has been suggested will be presented to the House. The Chair’s understanding was that the honorable member for Farrer commented on a matter mentioned by the honorable member for Wilmot. The honorable member for Farrer related that matter to the voting and decision of a party on a particular bill. I want to make that clear.
– There is certainly some misconception, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is curious how different is your recollection from mine of a very recent statement in the House. My recollection is that the honorable member for Farrer declared that Government supporters had become aware of the contents of an amendment which was to be moved by the Opposition, and that this amendment was in line with a proposal put forward by a Western Australian organization. He then proceeded, in my recollection, to quote what he said were the terms of the amendment to be moved, and to express his reasons why that amendment should not be carried. I was very interested and, as I say, I noted his remarks particularly at the time.
– Order! I do not want to debate the matter with the honorable member for Eden-Monaro because it would be unfair to trespass on his time. I would point out again, however, that what the honorable member for Farrer said was in reply to something that had already been mentioned in debate by the honorable member for Wilmot.
– I reply again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that my recollection - possibly faulty - of what was actually stated is entirely contrary to yours. This, of course, will be shown in the “ Hansard “ report and, human frailty being what it is, either you are incorrect or I am incorrect in recollection of what was actually said. But no doubt you will agree with me that the honorable member for Farrer was given liberty to praise the composition of the wool industry inquiry committee, to reply to criticisms of the inquiry by the Opposition, and to refer in very favourable terms to the work of the committee. I think that in reply to the honorable member, I might be permitted to say that, in our opinion, the fears expressed when the membership of the inquiry was announced were more than justified by the report which it subsequently produced. The recommendation of the committee that the existing free auction system be maintained without any protective measures was staggering to very many people in the light of all the evidence, in the light of the abuses to which that system is open, and in the light of the committee’s own recognition of those abuses. All this is very pertinent to the present issue, because the promotion levy proposed is 10s. a bale. On the evidence available to the wool inquiry, the loss to the grower through artificial depression of prices is approximately that amount. On the evidence presented to the inquiry and on its findings, the loss to the grower through artificial depression of prices is .32 pence per lb. - a total of more than £2,000,000 a year. The ability of the small grower to pay this levy of 10s. for promotional purposes is intimately concerned with the price that he is able to obtain for his product. Over and over again in its report the wool inquiry recognized the existence of the abuses in relation to wool-buying to which I have referred. It found that stabilization of prices would be an advantage to the industry. It found that pies do exist and that they depress the market. It found that the present system of wool auctions will leave the grower in a vulnerable position if further concentration of buying occurs.
– Order! I think the honorable member is going beyond the scope of the matter under discussion.
– I will be brief on this point. At every stage the committee of inquiry promptly proceeded to administer a soporific. It pointed out that while pies did depress the market, it would seem that the effect was not great, even though the extent to which prices were reduced could not be determined. It pointed out also that centralized buying had not yet become so far-reaching as to justify measures to counter it.
The honorable member for Farrer, on this point, justified the wool inquiry’s declining to seek the powers of a royal commission and, instead, proceeding to exercise merely the rights of an inquiry before which people could appear voluntarily and where they were not required to swear to the evidence that they gave. On that point, I would ask immediately. Why should those who gave evidence be afraid to give it on oath? What had they to fear? Why should they be unwilling to be crossexamined on their evidence? Why should they be unwilling to produce documents to support the statements they made to the inquiry? Why should they be unwilling to have those documents examined by the experts associated with the inquiry? If the inquiry had exercised the powers that 1 suggest it should have had, it would have been in a position to discover that the extent to which the price of wool in Australia is depressed through rings, pies and other methods of that kind is far more than .32 pence per lb.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that once again he is trespassing and going beyond the scope of the matter under discussion. With his vast experience of parliamentary procedure, he should be aware of those times when he is trespassing beyond the bounds of the bill before the House.
– With very great respect, Sir, I point out that the honorable member for Farrer sa’id that the members of the wool inquiry were offered an opportunity to possess the powers of a royal commission. The honorable member said that the inquiry, wisely in his opinion, rejected the offer of the powers of a royal commission and, instead, decided to exercise only the powers of a voluntary inquiry. The honorable member adverted to what were in his opinion the advantages of the course chosen by the wool inquiry. I think, therefore, that I am equally entitled to point to the disadvantages that I see in the course adopted by the inquiry.
– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, as well as other honorable members, is allowed to use a point to illustrate a matter that he desires to bring before the House. The honorable member has been given the latitude that was accorded to other honorable members, in that he has been allowed to. make passing references to certain matters not covered by the bill. All honorable members will be subject to the same restriction.
– I conclude that passing reference by emphasizing that I am opposed to the view submitted by the honorable member for Farrer. I believe that if the wool inquiry had accepted the opportunity which the honorable member for Farrer said had been given to it to have the powers of a royal commission, it could have obtained information which would have shown-
– I do not think the honorable member for Farrer said that the committee had the option. He said that the growers had the option.
– I understood him to say that the committee had the option.
– The’ facts are-
– I know what the facts are. I was astonished at the statement made by the honorable member for Farrer, and I noticed that it was questioned by his colleagues. If the wool inquiry had had the powers of a royal commission, it would have been able to discover evidence, amounting to proof, that the price of wool in Australia is reduced, not by ,32d. per lb., but by very much more than that as a result of arrangements between buyers to prevent free competition in the market. That, in my opinion, is an imperative reason for the introduction of the essential partner to a promotion system, namely, a proper system of organized marketing. In my opinion, the growers should be given the right at the earliest opportunity to vote on the question of whether they want a reserve price free marketing system for wool.
As has been indicated, the Opposition intends to move an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the bill. Last night we on this side of the chamber had an inkling that our amendment would not find favour with the occupant of the chair and that it would be ruled out of order. Accordingly, my leader in this debate - whom you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will recognize as being a downy old bird - decided to defer the moving of our amendment until this afternoon, in the hope that after a tranquil night’s sleep and in the sunshine of to-day, with the knowledge that we are approaching the pleasure of a peaceful week-end, the amendment would find more favour in the eyes of the occupant of the chair. Therefore, on behalf of the Opposition, and very hopefully, I move the following amendment to the motion for the second reading: -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ this House is of opinion that a decision to continue the wool levy should not be made until a poll of wool-growers has been taken to ascertain their wishes in respect of a reserve price-auction system of wool marketing”.
In explanation, I point out that the amendment, if carried, will not destroy this legislation, or even prevent it from being implemented. All the arrangements for the poll could be made immediately. The poll could be taken and the result known in time for this promotion scheme to operate as intended by the Government. The Opposition would have no objection to that being done.
– Order! The Chair has had an opportunity to study the amendment. The Chair is of opinion that the amendment is not relevant to the subject-matter of the bill, which deals with a levy on wool-growers to finance wool promotion. The amendment is therefore out of order, and I so rule.
– Sir, I accept your ruling with regret.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker. [Quorum formed.] First, I want to thank the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) for providing me with a larger audience by directing attention to the state of the House. For the benefit of honorable members who have just entered the chamber, I was about to begin when the quorum was formed following the speech of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). Over recent months I have stated in this chamber that I bad a great respect for the knowledge of primary industry possessed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). After listening to the honorable member in this debate, and subsequently to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I am more than ever convinced that the honorable member for Lalor is one of the few members on the Opposition side who understands primary industry. The honorable member for Wilmot made certain accusations against supporters of the Government, particularly members of the Australian Country Party, concerning their wearing apparel. While I have a great respect for the honorable member as a man, I have no respect for his knowledge of primary industry. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro concentrated principally upon a criticism of the speech made by the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn). While I do not agree with all that the honorable member for Farrer said, at least he was closer to the point and contributed more to this debate than did the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. Since the Chair has rejected the amendment that was proposed by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I shall not comment on it.
The reasons for the bill are quite simple.: It provides for a renewal of the authority to impose a levy of 10s. a bale on wool for promotion purposes. Had the bill not been introduced, the levy would have reverted automatically to 5s. as it was before it was increased to 10s. about twelve months ago. I wish to give a few reasons why I support the bill, and I shall begin by outlining the composition of the two organizations that are interested in wool promotion. This may appear to be tedious repetition, particularly to honorable members on the Government side, but I think it appropriate to make this explanation because there is confusion in the minds of many people with respect to the Australian Wool Bureau and the International Wool Secretariat. The Australian Wool Bureau consists of seven members - three from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and three from the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council, and one Government nominee. The International Wool Secretariat has thirteen members including the seven members of the Australian Wool Bureau, three from New Zealand and three from South Africa. Each of those two organizations has a role to play. The bureau - the Australian organization - represents Australia on the International Wool Secretariat. Its responsibility is to look after wool promotion in Australia and to see that the necessary funds are raised. The International Wool Secretariat attends to promotion on a world basis. It receives its finances from the three wool-growing countries - Australia, South Africa and New Zealand - and in addition there is what is called joint promotion. The honorable member for Wilmot mentioned Japan’s interest in joint promotion. Some countries, although they are not large exporters of wool and in most cases do not export wool at all - including France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Norway - appreciate the importance of promotion, particularly of wool, and this is where the International Wool Secretariat can co-operate on a joint promotion basis.
Last night, the honorable member for Lalor referred to the fact that the Australian Wool Bureau sent a team of experts overseas some eighteen months ago to investigate why we were not getting a high price for our wool. In reply to the honorable member, I direct attention to a pamphlet entitled “ Promoting Wool “ which deals with wool promotion on a world-wide basis. The results of a world survey are given in this pamphlet and they are quite interesting. The pamphlet states -
After examining all the reports that are available the Australian Wool Bureau has come to the following conclusions: -
Wool has been out-researched and outpromoted by young and vigorous competitors.
I do not think there is any need to enlarge on that statement. The report continues -
This is a very serious state of affairs for the future of the industry. In the past, we have always been able to say that wool is better; but if the synthetic man-made fibres compare with wool, we shall have virtually no argument left. The pamphlet also states -
I do not want to confuse honorable members, but it is interesting to note that the value of the imports of wool products annually - I emphasize wool products, not greasy wool - by the United States and Canada totals £86,000,000, of which Australia’s share amounts to only £160,000. If for no other reason than that, we should ensure that our wool promotion activities are increased. The fourth conclusion reached as a result of the survey is this -
I have already mentioned that aspect. The fifth conclusion, which also is vital, is in these terms -
In other words, it is a case of not putting all your eggs in one basket. The sixth conclusion is as follows: -
Those are some of the conclusions which were reached by the committee of two or three members of which the honorable member for Lalor was speaking last night. I believe that those six conclusions are very important and contain the reasons why we should support this bill.
It is all very well to criticize what has been done, but we must find a solution of the problem. I believe that the proposal to re-organize the International Wool Secretariat is a good one. I have already mentioned the composition of the secretariat, three of its thirteen members being from New Zealand, three from South Africa and the remainder from Australia with a managing director based in London and directors in the three areas of the United Kingdom and Europe, America and Asia.
I do not intend to go into detail in relation to our promotion activities overseas, but I should like to mention some of the costs that the International Wool Secretariat will have to meet within the next few years. It is estimated that in 1961-62 expenditure by the secretariat will be £3,000,000 sterling towards which the Australian Wool Bureau will contribute £A.2,882,000. The levy required to meet that contribution will be 12s. a bale. In 1962-63, it is estimated, the secretariat’s expenditure will increase to £3,748,000 and Australia’s contribution will be £3,464,000. The expenditure, it is estimated, will continue to rise until in 1966-67 it reaches £5,628,000 and Australia’s contribution will be £4,925,000. To meet that contribution it is expected that a levy of £1 a bale will be imposed, 18s. being devoted to promotion and 2s. to research.
There has been a considerable amount of criticism for various reasons of the retention of the levy of 10s. a bale. Of course, the first reason for the criticism is that those who opposed the levy last year and agreed that the increase should apply for one year only, now have renewed their opposition to it. Some growers are opposed to the levy for economic reasons. They claim that the price of wool is too low and they cannot afford to pay the levy, but I remind them that even with the levy standing at 10s. a bale it is still less than 1 per cent, of the price paid for the wool. I am sure that the annual cost of promotion in any other industry or business would not be as low as 1 per cent. Some growers are critical of the bureau’s expenditure - I shall deal with that in a moment - while others criticize promotion within Australia. They do not know what is going on outside Australia, but they criticize what is going on inside Australia. The final reason was stated by, I think, an Opposition member this afternoon. He said, “ Already we are selling all of our wool so why should we worry about trying to sell something we have not got? “. The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) answered that suggestion very well. Let me illustrate the point. If two people are seeking to buy one article you can expect to receive a fair price for it, but if there are two articles and only one purchaser the result due to lack of competition is obvious. As the honorable member for Farrer stated, you have only to go to any auction sale to see what happens if there is a demand for a certain article. The auctioneer can expect to receive good bids for it.
As to the criticism of the expenditure by the Australian Wool Bureau within Australia, I should like to direct attention to the annual report of this body for 1960-61, particularly that portion referring to wool promotion. It states -
During the year 1960-61 promotion of wool in Australia operated under seven major categories. These are summarized as follows: -
Direct advertising campaigns in trade and consumer press and magazines designed to promote both a quality and at the same time a more modern image for wool. This represented the second stage of the three-plan with emphasis on three major objectives:
To promote a better and more desirable image for wool;
To promote more sales of wool through merchandising techniques directed at mills, manufacturers and retailers, and the ultimate consumer;
To win and to hold the confidence of the textile industry.
Industry co-operative advertising.
Major sales development projects in connexion with the manufacturing and retail industries.
Promotion of technical processes particularly Si-ro-set, shrink-proofing, moth-proofing and boil-proof hospital blankets.
The honorable member for Farrer covered that aspect very well. The report continues -
Those are some of the activities of the Wool Bureau within Australia.
Perhaps I could mention now some of the bureau’s income and expenditure. As I said earlier, the bureau has a commitment to the International Wool Secretariat. We do not know what the levy of 10s. a bale will yield for the year 1961-62, which is not yet complete. In the previous year, 1960-61, when the levy was only 5s. a bale, the bureau’s income from the levy amounted to £1,169,000. Its expenditure in Australia amounted to £597,000, or approximately half of that income. The bureau’s report shows that during that year it remitted £1,659,000 to the International Wool Secretariat. In other words, local expenditure and overseas expenditure combined totalled £2,262,000, while income from the levy of 5s. a bale was about half of that amount. In normal circumstances, therefore, with a levy of 10s., we may now expect an income from the levy amounting to £2,338,000.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) referred earlier this afternoon to the expenditure of the International Wool Secretariat. I have been unable, as he was unable, to secure particulars of that expenditure, but we have information as to the expenditure of the Australian Wool Bureau which, of course, is our first responsibility. Out of the bureau’s total expenditure of £597,000 promotion accounted for £414,000. That is a pretty high percentage of expenditure, considering the high administrative costs in any organization to-day. In one branch alone of the organization, these costs amounted to £58,000. Therefore, the bureau is not doing a bad job after all.
There is one other angle to which I should like to refer. As the growers have differing opinions, there has been a certain amount of criticism of the basis on which the levy is made. To-day, we are discussing a levy of 10s. a bale. Many growers believe that the levy should be on a percentage basis. I cannot see much difference between the two methods. Any one who understands the wool industry will appreciate that most growers have some high value wool and also some low value wool. In other words, the position balances out in the long run. As I see it, the most important requirement is to ensure to the bureau continuity of income. Our income from wool to-day is about £400,000,000. If, by any chance, there were a big drop in that income, and the levy were struck on a percentage basis, the bureau would find that its returns were not as high as it expected them to be. So while there are certain advantages in a percentage basis for the grower of wool of inferior class, or wool that is not of the highest class, the present scheme is the most practicable for the bureau.
The main issue that we face to-day, as 1 see it, is whether we shall support the bill, whereby the Australian Wool Bureau will receive this year £2,500,000, or whether we shall support a measure that will return it only £1,250,000. I conclude by making a brief reference to the report of the committee of inquiry. For your information, Mr. Speaker, it deals with promotion and not with marketing. Paragraph 55 reads -
Promotion, which broadly speaking includes textile and market research, is the most promising means open to growers whereby world demand for wool can be stimulated . . . Growers have voted large funds for the promotion of Australian wool and they are being requested, in our opinion rightly, to vote still larger funds for this purpose.
I support the bill.
.- We are considering a bill to continue for a further period of twelve months a levy of 10s. a bale of wool, to be paid by the woolgrower. I should like to have spoken this afternoon in support of an amendment, proposed by the honorable member for
Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), which was ruled out of order by your deputy, Mr. Speaker. It is quite obvious from the manner in which this debate has proceeded that promotion, marketing and research are closely interlocked. Even in the report of the wool marketing committee of inquiry, we find reference to a very close interlocking of these three factors.
Both sides of the House are in agreement in supporting the continuation of the levy for another twelve months. Last evening the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) placed before the House a brief history of wool levies. He took the House back to 1936 when the original levy was 6d. a bale. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) stated the income that will be available for the purpose of promotion during the next twelve months in consequence of this legislation, but the amount of money that will be expended on promotion of the sale and use of wool is as nothing compared with the amount being expended by the producers of various manmade fibres. In consequence, even if we as a nation were not interested in advertising this product, or promoting its sale and use, we should have been forced by sheer economics to take the action that has been taken.
We hope that, as a result of promotion, in the decade that lies ahead, when the wool industry will receive greater competition from man-made fibres than it has received in the past decade, it will be able as a result of the bureau’s activities not only to maintain the position of wool in the world of fibres but also to maintain, if not increase, the price that the woolgrower will receive. The honorable member for Wimmera referred to the report of the committee of inquiry. When the formation of the committee was announced by the Government, there was in this country a great body of opinion, to which I subscribed, to the effect that the Government had run away from the issue because of a division of opinion on the marketing of wool.
When the committee was established it was not given the powers of a royal commission. The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) referred to this fact this afternoon. I am sure that if the committee had asked the Government for the powers of a royal commission so that it could subpoena witnesses and call for papers, the powers would have been given to it. But I have not heard of the committee having asked the Government for increased powers. At the time the committee was established, the wool-growers were divided into two groups, each holding a different opinion on the question of marketing. One group wanted a floor price plan and the other wanted the auction system. This is only a passing reference, Mr. Speaker; I do not wish to transgress. Instead of holding a referendum amongst the growers, the Government appointed the committee. The committee brought down its report, but a considerable section of the wool-growers is not happy with it. Already many members of Parliament have received letters about the report from wool-growing organizations. I understand that the graziers in Queensland are meeting to discuss it to-morrow. ; The committee dealt extensively with the subject of wool promotion. The only interpretation that can be placed on the remarks of the committee is that it was not satisfied with the way that the Australian Wool Bureau was functioning. It suggested the formation of a new authority of eight people. We have not heard whether the Government has accepted the findings of the committee nor have we heard officially what its reactions to the committee’s report are. I want now to deal with one or two aspects of marketing. I do not wish to re-hash the statements that have already been made on this subject.
– Order! The subject of marketing has been ruled out of order. Only a passing reference to this subject will be permitted.
– Yes, Mr. Speaker. I shall discuss the question of promotion. As I said at the outset, wool promotion and marketing are very closely interlocked. Wool promotion is essential to marketing and in consequence this measure provides for the continuance of the levy. We on this side of the House are conscious of the fact that every bale of wool is sold when it goes to auction. The honorable member for Wimmera referred to this fact, but no reference has been made to the price that the growers receive. One would think that, because every bale of wool is sold at auction, it would not be necessary to promote the sale of wool. But when we compare the sheep population in Australia and Australian wool production with world production, we realize how necessary it is to encourage wool production. The latest statistics available to me show that Australia’s sheep population is 16 per cent, of the total world sheep population, that we produce 29 per cent, of the world’s wool, that we produce 37 per cent, of apparel wool, that we produce 53 per cent, of the merino wool, and that we have 43 per cent, of the world’s trade in wool. The Australian consumption is 5 per cent, of our production. So, 95 per cent, of our production is exported. These exports are valued at between £300,000,000 and £400,000,000. The fact that 43 per cent, of the world’s trade in wool rests with this country might suggest that it is unnecessary to continue with a policy of wool promotion. Even the fact that we produce 37 per cent, of the world’s apparel wool might suggest that the Australian wool industry has a firm hold on the world’s demand for wool. But the wool industry is vital to the economy of Australia. On it depends the standards of living of all people in Australia, not only of the wool-growers.
The wool industry provides £300,000,000 to £400,000,000 or about 40 per cent, of our export income. The statistics show that with a clip of 5,000,000 bales, a reduction of Id. per lb. in the price of wool costs the country no less than £7,000,000. The expansion of our economy has resulted in a terrific demand for more imports. I do not want to deal with the question of import restrictions at this stage. Our expansion has resulted in a demand for such imports as petrol, oil and machinery. It is to the wool industry that we turn for an increase in the value of our exports so that we may pay for the goods that we must import. Successful promotion of the sale and use of wool will enable us to maintain our solvency, to maintain our living standards and to pay for our imports.
I believe that every country can use more wool. There are vast potential markets in northern Asia and in the Far East. But though the demand may exist in those countries, we must consider whether those people have the wherewithal to purchase woollen goods. The improvement of living standards in those countries will lead to an increased demand for Australian wool. We have seen Japan replace the United Kingdom as the main purchaser of our wool. Some 85 per cent, of the wool used by Japan comes from Australia and 90 per cent. of this wool is used to satisfy its own domestic demands.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) this afternoon mentioned the challenge presented to wool by the competition of synthetics. Wool has on its side in its fight against synthetics certain unique qualities of elasticity and so forth which are not found in the man-made fibres, and especially its ability to retain shape. I know for a fact that, despite the marriage which took place in recent years between synthetics and wool in the manufacture of men’s trousers, people are now turning back to the article made of pure wool, because they are of the opinion that it is a far better economic proposition for them. In the face of this challenge by synthetics, those whose job it is to promote the sale and the use of wool will, naturally, have to step up promotion. I feel quite certain, from the remarks made throughout this country by Sir William Gunn of which I have read reports in the press, that he and the other members of the Australian Wool Bureau, as well as the International Wool Secretariat, are making every endeavour to promote the use of wool.
Although wool is being challenged by synthetics, it is not losing its appeal in the world’s markets. The production of wool, in proportion to the world production of fibres, has declined slightly. The increase in the production of wool has not kept pace with the increase in the world demand for fibres. To my way of thinking, synthetics will probably never match wool in many respects, and in the next decade wool may be able to maintain a reasonable price margin compared with synthetics even when they are in good supply. Over the next decade, the cost of production of synthetics may become much lower than at present and they may become much cheaper. Particularly will this be the case when the demand for fibres becomes saturated. We of the Opposition are conscious of what this will mean to our economy. That is why we support wool promotion.
Time is short, but the world organization, with its own facilities and funds and the money made available for promotion by the Australian Wool Bureau, will provide Australia with an opportunity to go out and sell. The improvement of living standards throughout the world will help the campaign. The ever-increasing demand in Japan, which I have already mentioned, indicates the improvement in living standards in that country. On this aspect of the matter, I want to quote from an article in the issue of “ Wool Record “ of 22nd December, 1961, under the heading, “Why Japan Has Grown as a Wool User “. It states -
Between 19S0 and 1960, virgin wool consumption by the Japanese industry went up by about 160 per cent, compared with rises of 60 per cent in Italy, 30 per cent in Australia, 10-20 per cent in Belgium, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and a decline of about 25 per cent in the U.S.
Japan now ranks fourth in importance after the United Kingdom, the United Stales and France as wool consumers in the non-Communist world.
Four main reasons for the rise of Japan as a wool consumer are that the population has grown by 13 per cent since 1950, real income per head has doubled in the last ten years, “Western” fashions have been displacing oriental fashions and the Government progressively removed controls on imports of raw wool, abolishing all restrictions in April, 1961.
One unusual feature of the Japanese wool textile industry is that most of the wools it uses are Australian. In the period January-August, 1961, nearly 80 per cent of the Japanese imports of raw wool came from Australia. Japan is now the most important buyer of Australian wool, taking 31 per cent of Australian exports in 1960-61 as compared with 18 per cent by the United Kingdom, next most important buyer.
The article concludes with this passage -
Future scale of Japanese wool buying appears to depend not so much on the situation in the wool textile industry as on developments in the economy, particularly on the way in which the balance of payments changes. Current deficit on the balance of payments is serious and is unlikely to be eliminated for some months. Until it is, it is reasonable to expect that the rate of economic growth will be checked and that Japan will be unlikely to buy as freely as in the recent past.
That indicates, Mr. Speaker, the effect of the doubling of income per head of population in the last ten years in Japan and the difference that this has made to Japan’s position in the market for Australian wool.
With the advance of living standards in other countries in the East, be it ever so slight, they, too, may become buyers of Australian wool. I do not suggest, however, that they will become buyers on the same scale that Japan has attained. The point is that Japan has now displaced the United Kingdom as our principal buyer. Many countries throughout the world which use cotton must, with the general improvement in their living standards, increase their demand for wool.
Russia’s production of wool is about half that of Australia, from 140,000,000 sheep, and Russia is therefore a potential threat. The quality of Russian wool is poor compared with that of Australian wool. The Russian product is used locally and does not compete with Australian wool. Most of the Russian flocks, however, are merinos, and, in the next decade, Russia may have so developed its wool industry as to be able to drop out of the market for Australian wool.
I do not wish to transgress hi any way, Mr. Speaker, but 1 should like to turn to one or two other matters. Proposals for a floor-price plan for the sale of our wool are vital from the standpoint of wool promotion. We hope that wool promotion efforts will increase competition for our wool and cause it to be snapped up. This ought to increase our income from wool. A scheme under which a reserve price was fixed would prevent any’- repetition of what happened between 1928 and 1931. In the financial year 1928-29, the price of wool dropped by 16 per cent.; in 1929-30, by 37 per cent.; and in 1930-31, by 18 per cent. In 1931, the price of wool fell to an average of 8.4d. per lb. The greatest fall occurred in 1934-35, when the price declined by 38 per cent. We do not want a repetition of those events. We can ensure that they will not be repeated only if we introduce a reserveprice plan.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I join with other honorable members from this side of the House in supporting the bill.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
.- The object of the bill before the House is, as we know, to make possible the collection from wool-growers of the levy of 10s. a bale for promotion. Although the Opposition is not opposing the bill directly, some honorable members opposite have been critical of it because of its implications so far as marketing is concerned. In that respect, Sir, you have taken a very strong line and have not allowed them to proceed very far. In addition, some of the criticism that has been voiced, both inside and outside the Parliament, has been concerned with the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry, which has been mentioned continually throughout the debate.
I imagine that a good deal of criticism based on the report comes from people who have not read it. Although I do not pretend that it is an easy document to read, it is not as formidable as it looks. I commend the reading of it to many of its critics who have been rather vocal about its defects. I have found it a very useful document. I have heard criticism, and heard it often, that the report is not clear in its recommendations. The main recommendations, of course, are concerned with wool marketing, promotion, and the form which the body that governs the industry should take. On those matters, I found it completely frank, and I was able to follow the recommendations without difficulty. I say this, Sir, not so much for the benefit of honorable members, but for people outside, in order to rebut the criticism that it is not a frank expression of opinion. I have found it quite decisive and I am very disturbed by the . Opposition criticism of the report.
One of the tragedies of the wool industry in the past was the continual war between the various organizations. Ill-founded criticism of the report of the committee is very dangerous because it will make more difficult the achieving of unity. Some of the I half-hearted objections of honorable members opposite have been concerned with the marketing question, while opposition from outside the Parliament has come from growers who wonder whether the money that is being raised in this way is being well spent. For that reason, I thought that I N should devote a little of my time this evening to that subject. Last year I had the opportunity, in Great Britain and also in India, to see the International Wool Secretariat at work. As you know, Sir, most of the money that is raised for promotion goes to the Internationa] Wool Secretariat.
In 1951, I visited Great Britain and had the opportunity to have a look at the work of the secretariat. I came away with a farmer’s distrust of it, feeling that in some instances money was being wasted and that the lines of thinking being followed were not at all clear. Last year, while I was in London, I happened to go into the Albert Hall to see an exhibition staged by the British nylon spinners. This exhibition of materials produced by the artificial fibre industry was a remarkably good one. It made me realize very strongly what we were up against, and it made me wonder what we were doing in the way of wool promotion and also what the International Wool Secretariat was doing. I had two most interesting visits to the secretariat to see what was being done with our money. As I have said, I went there with a farmer’s scepticism, such as many of us have of things we are not quite sure about. So, I wondered whether the promotion was being well done and whether the large amount of money being paid to the secretariat was being well spent or misspent. I came away with a very clear picture of the work that the secretariat is doing, and I commend such a visit to any wool-grower who is going overseas. The secretariat is going to some trouble to encourage visitors from Australia to have a look at its work, and it is appropriate that they should do so, because that is where our money is being spent.
Having visited the secretariat as a critic, so to speak, I was in a good position to make a reasonable assessment of the kind of work that was being done by it. Under the chairmanship of Mr. Lund, who is the head of the London branch of the secretariat, I found a very thorough and worthwhile organization at work. There are many aspects of the work of the secretariat that should be mentioned. Wool-growers have the impression that they alone are putting up the money for promotion. In fact, in Great Britain the manufacturers are finding half as much as the wool-growers. In that country, the money is spent in a particularly effective way. It is interesting to learn that 75 per cent, of men’s woollen outer wear is sold by four big companies. Because of that fact it is both easy and efficient to do the propaganda work through those companies.
In Great Britain, the methods of advertising wool have been changed. For a period, those concerned with promotion went through the exercise of advertising wool as wool. It is all right to advertise meat as meat, as has been done very effectively in Australia recently, but it has been realized that when it comes to wool different methods are necessary. Advertising slogans such as “ wool is best “ used to be employed, for instance, but now it is appreciated that in order to be effective, it is the garment which must be advertised. I should like to assure sceptical wool-growers in this country that although, when I visited the secretariat I wondered whether the advertising wa9 effective, whether large expense accounts were being operated, and so on, I came away with a very clear picture of an efficient and thorough organization at work.
There is one other comment that I wish to make about the International Wool Secretariat. I had the opportunity to visit India on my way back to Australia, and in that country I also visited the secretariat. Although the position is, of course, very different in India from that in England, and indeed, in many ways it is a great deal more difficult, I imagine that very good work is being done there, too. Many of us are apt to think of India as such a warm country that wool would not be used. Of course, those who know India are aware that in the Northern regions if is quite cold, particularly in the winter months. There is a real need for woollen garments in those places. Of course, it is not easy to sell our wool to India. Because of the exchange position, it is difficult for the Indian people to buy good quality wool from Australia. There is continual pressure from the government of that country to force the manufacturers to use the poor quality Indian wool which, obviously, has a better use as carpet wool. However, because of the exchange difficulties, the Government of India is trying to force the manufacturers to use the local wool for apparel.
In spite of that, there is a great opportunity for wool promotion. I thought that the way in which the promotion was being tackled in India was most interesting. They were training knitters, training people to go out and teach the villagers how to knit wool. That is the kind of approach I would like to see being adopted more often in international aid programmes. It is going out and doing a grass roots job.
If we can get one extra pound of our wool each year into India for every person in that country, we will get rid of about one-quarter of our total clip. We are always talking airily about the necessity for searching in Asian markets for an outlet for our products. Although I would not pretend that the job in India is easy, as far as I could see it is being effectively done. I thought I should say this to the House because of this constant criticism and doubt that I have mentioned, and which I can understand, because the wool-growers may feel that the money being provided is nol being well spent. In every place in which I made close inquiries I found that it was being well spent.
There is a further point I would like to make. The report states quite clearly that in the committee’s opinion the International Wool Secretariat should be charged with the work of promotion in Australia which is now done by the Australian Wool Bureau. I think this is a good suggestion. The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) mentioned the criticism that has been voiced of some of the promotion activities that have been undertaken in Australia by the Wool Bureau. I too have been somewhat uncertain about the effectiveness of that promotion work. I would like to see the whole promotion organization under the one head, and I would commend the recommendation of the committee of inquiry, that the Wool Bureau give way, on the matter of promotion, to the International Wool Secretariat, which would then have to do a world-wide job.
Another aspect on the promotion side should be mentioned. I agree with the committee that promotion and research should be carried out in respect of blends as well as of pure wool. It is ridiculous to close our eyes to the fact that one of the prime uses for wool in the future will be as one ingredient in mixed fabrics that will also contain synthetics. We will just be closing our eyes to the facts if we fail to recognize this and if we go ahead with our promotion and research as we have been doing in the past, with the whole emphasis on pure wool.
I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the Wheat and Wool Growers Association for having the vision and the good sense to agree to this 10s. a bale levy. As has been mentioned before, the Farmers Union of Western Australia adopted an attitude which I must condemn. It announced that it would not support the 10s. levy unless it got what it wanted in the way of a reserve price scheme. That attitude was not worthy of the organization. I know that there is something in the story behind the great battle that the Farmers Union has waged, under the leadership of its great fighter, Mr. Hitchins. However, I was intensely disappointed to find the organization adopting such a narrow view. I know that the Farmers Union did not get what it wanted on the marketing side, but what is becoming all too clear is the great need for promotion, and, as I have said, it was not worthy of this organization to turn away from supporting this necessary promotion fund because it did not get what it wanted on the marketing side. I know that the Wheat and Wool Growers Association had a difficult fight in this matter, and I would like to congratulate particularly Mr. Heaslip, the federal president of the association, for the way in which he battled through. I think that Australia and the Australian wool-growers owe a great debt to him for the courage and determination he displayed.
In conclusion let me say that I hope - it is almost a desperate hope now - that the two wool-grower organizations can somehow close their ranks on the question of wool promotion and selling. It has been the tragedy of Australian wool growing in the last ten years that these two organizations have spent so much of their time fighting the politics of wool. I think the time has definitely arrived, if we cannot get these two organizations to come together, for the Minister to take his courage in his hands and to do the things that have to be done for the welfare of the industry. I believe that there is enough good sense in both organizations for them to rally round, after the first shock wears off, and realize that what the Minister is doing is for the well-being of the industry. This continual fight between the organizations has had a side effect in that the Minister has found difficulty in taking the clear and decisive action that is so needed. I urge him to realize that the time has come when a definite stand has to be taken on some of these important questions concerning the industry.
.- The bill before the House proposes to extend for a further twelve months the provisions relating to the collection of a levy of 10s. on each bale of wool, the proceeds of the levy to be devoted to the promotion of the sale of wool. During my speech I propose to throw a few new thoughts into the ring. I do not suggest that they will be entirely original because, as Solomon once remarked, there is nothing new under the sun. But I do hope to add something fresh to what has already been said.
I shall begin by referring to the rough guess made by the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry - and I think it was a very rough guess - at what wool-buying pies are costing the growers. Unless the committee had power to compel the production of the files of brokers and of the various firms involved in buying large quantities of wool and dividing it up amongst themselves, I fail to see how it could possibly have arrived at anything like an accurate estimate of what pies are costing the growers and Australia generally. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), reading from the report of the committee, said that if the pies were costing .32d. per lb., the total cost of them would be about £2,000,000, which is approximately the amount that this levy will yield.
I have been associated with the wool industry in Australia for a very long time. I do not claim to have had1 much to do with the raising of sheep. I suppose I have seen more sheep on butchers’ hooks than I have seen in the field. But I have seen a great deal of wool processing going on. I have had a good deal to do with the processing and selling of wool. In Australia the cloth used in making woollen garments has tended to be valued by the Australian people according to the marks to be found on the selvedge of the cloth. For many years it has been found that if cloth bears the legend “ Made in England “ on the selvedge it commands a higher price than other cloth. I can inform the House that cloth made in Australia has realized higher prices than it normally would have after being handed over to some person who has re-processed it simply by adding the words “ Made in England “ on the selvedge. Such cloth has then been deemed by purchasers to be of greater value, although not by the tailors. Tailors are pretty good authorities on the quality of cloth, but it is the buyer who has to be convinced, and if he sees the magic words “ Made in England “ on the selvedge he is always prepared to pay a higher price. I think there is a lesson for. us in this. I want at this stage to refer to those competitive fibres, nylon and terylene, both of which are used in the production of socks. No small proportion of the world demand for wool is wrapped up in the manufacture of socks. Nobody can convince any housewife in Australia or elsewhere in the world that wool is a satisfactory fibre for socks when compared with nylon and terylene. Unless we can effect some revolutionary improvement in the processing of knitting wool to give it longer wearing qualities its use in the manufacture of socks will continue to diminish. As a matter of fact, it can be said that the manufacturers of darning needles have pretty well gone bankrupt since nylon and terylene socks were introduced.
I only wish, for the sake of the Australian wool industry, that some of our scientists who are working on the problem could produce a woollen fibre, suitable for knitting, with wearing qualities comparable with those of nylon and terylene. Unfortunately, up to date, that has not been the case. I know also - and this is wrapped up in the marketing of wool as a fibre - that the wool interests are not as much on the ball as their competitors, the cotton manufacturers of Australia, are. Even as I have had a lot to do with woollen manufacturing so did I have a lot to do with cotton manufacture. I found that woollen manufacturers always seemed to be reluctant to adopt any new ideas and were very slow to adopt them, whereas the cotton boys are right on the ball and ready to buy the latest and most modern machinery to make their fibre highly competitive with wool.
For the purpose of illustrating what I mean, and in order, perhaps, to give a guide to woollen manufacturers, let me compare the prices of cardigans. Very large quantities of wool are converted into cardigans. Large quantities of cotton - but not as large as the quantity of wool - are also converted into cardigans. One of the principal arguments used in the selling of wool is that it has very high insulating qualities and that there is nothing so good for wearing apparel. That is not quite true. I can show the House a cotton cardigan the inner side of which has been processed and upon which a nap has been raised. If you do that to a cotton cardigan it is just as warm as a woollen cardigan, if not warmer.
At the same time, I do not think there is any need for great panic about synthetic fibres at this moment, because I have found that when other fibres are blended with wool they tend, in my opinion, to produce a better cloth. I know that there I am at variance with some of my colleagues and with some members on the other side of the House, but I think it can be safely said that if you blend terylene or nylon with wool in the manufacture of cloth you will get a better cloth, which will be much longer lasting and harder wearing and which will have a better appearance. Since that is so - I do not think anybody can dispute it - we should not worry too much about the existence of the present synthetic fibres.
I often feel that insufficient money is spent on research, in Australia and elsewhere. Elsewhere it does not matter so much, but in Australia it matters a very great deal, because about 48 per cent, of our overseas earnings are derived from the sale of wool. That is a considerable amount. For a long time it has been safe to say - and it is safe to say to-day - that Australia rides on the sheep’s back. There are competitors with wool arising, and the war of the fibres is never-ending. I have at times speculated upon this matter with friends of mine in the textile industry. I do not claim that the idea is mine, but it has been suggested to me - and I think it has great merit - that some solvent should be found in which wool could be dissolved. I do not necessarily mean that you should take the finest of our wool - the finest merino 63’s or 64’s - and dissolve that-
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Grayndler that one of his own colleagues is speaking. I ask him to remain silent.
– But there are sections of the fleece which are of small value. In the manufacture of the fibre into woollen yarn we often end up with a lot of what are known as noils. You can do practically nothing with these noils at the moment, but if the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization can find a suitable solvent for the noils we may eventually have some superlative kind of fibre made by the extrusion of the fibre in the same way as acetate or viscose yarns are extruded after certain substances have been dissolved - in the case of acetates, in acetone. I think that herein might lie hope for the discovery of some highly revolutionary and new super-fibre. Moreover, by this process of extrusion we might find use for every ounce of wool in the fleece.
In addition to that, in this country and in every other country in the world where wool is used in garments, old clothes are flung away. Very frequently these are collected and returned to the mills, where they are ripped into shreds and spun over again. It might be possible, if we could find a suitable solvent, not only to find a use for every ounce of wool in the fleece, whether the good long staple wool or not, but also to find a use for every ounce of old garments which might have been worn as long ago as 80 years, because wool is almost everlasting.
One of the problems which manufacturers have not been able to overcome lies in the manufacture of woollen singlets. They are very expensive. It is hard to buy an ordinary woollen singlet for less than £2, and elderly people and pensioners have complained bitterly about this to me. The price is far too much for them to pay. We might yet find a way, through new techniques, whereby we can produce a better fibre at lower prices. Woollen singlets are discarded by many people because, after the passage of two or three years, they begin to take on a yellow colour. We have not found a way of preventing that yellow colour coming into the wool. To dispose of the yellow colouring it is necessary to re-process the entire garment and bleach it. Science may yet find a way to overcome this trouble. If you want to improve the marketing of wool you will have to prevent the yellowing of wool after a few years.
I want to throw one more idea into the ring. I do not know whether it will be of any great value, but it may. I know that the Japanese had a very vast and lucrative silk growing and spinning industry. Everybody knows that the silkworm lives on mulberry leaves. The Japanese were so careful in the production of their silk yarn that larvae that were, say, a week old ate mulberry leaves that were so many days old, and larvae that were a fortnight old were fed on leaves a little older, and so on. The Japanese had their business down to a very fine art. In short, the larvae of the silkworm moth were eating the leaves and turning them into a continuous fibre. In Australia we have an animal eating grass and turning it into a short-staple fibre which has to be processed over and over again. I shall throw an idea into the ring. The geniuses who work for the C.S.I.R.O. - at very low salaries unfortunately - might be able to find some way in which the moths that cause such destruction in wardrobes can be bred to a greater size and fed upon old wool, so that they can produce a continuous fibre. I offer that suggestion for consideration in a world in which the strangest things are happening.
Mr. Speaker, Australia is about to spend £2,000,000 on wool promotion. As the honorable member for Lalor has said, every pound of wool that we produce finds a ready market. There is no difficulty at all about selling our wool. But the price that we receive for our wool is determined largely by what buyers are prepared to pay for it, and what they are prepared to pay for it is determined by what the buyers reckon the market will bear. Whilst I realize that Australians buy only about 5 per cent, of the Australian wool clip, I believe that members of the public are victims of a “ clip “, because only about £2 worth of raw wool, on present prices, goes into a suit for which the buyer pays £25. Those are just average figures. I believe that there is something very wrong in a system under which the ultimate buyer pays twelve and a half times the cost of the raw material.
I would prefer to see the whole of the proceeds of this tax handed over to the C.S.I.R.O. I believe that that organization could make better use of the money than could any wool promotion committee that we liked to establish. I strongly believe that if the fibre can be cheapened and improved we will not need to spend a penny on promotion. I remember reading an article written by that well-known publicist, Dale Carnegie, in which he said that if a man made the best mouse-trap in the world he could establish his factory in the centre of darkest Africa and the whole world would beat a path to his door. I believe that we can improve our woollen fibre and that il we try we can cheapen it. If we produce the best fibre in the world we will not need to spend £2,000,000 on wool promotion.
There is no room for complacency in this matter. Time and the scientists are working against us. The manufacturers of the synthetic fibres spend approximately 100 times more money than we spend on research. We do not know the day or the hour when they will come up with some new and super fibre which in one blow will dispose of the market for the product which provides 80 per cent, of our overseas trade balances. We know that the population of the world is increasing very rapidly. We are told that therefore we have no need to worry because we will be able to sell every pound of wool that we produce. We are told that if the population of the world continues to grow, even if larger and larger quantities of synthetic fibres are produced, there will still be a market for our wool. 1 cannot agree with that entirely because, as I said, we do not” know the day or the hour when the scientists will come up wilh a new and super fibre that is cheaper than wool. If it is one penny a pound cheaper than wool and has similar qualities, wool will not sell.
I desire to conclude, Mr. Speaker, with the observation that in the management of industry to-day there is a technique known as brain-storming. In that technique executives get together around a table and they all produce what might seem to be wild ideas. Some of the ideas that I have put forward to-night no doubt seem like very wild ideas. But out of one wild idea might come another idea. If, by that means, the Australian wool-growing industry can be made a better income-earner for the woolgrowers and people of Australia generally, I will feel that my standing up here to-night and expressing what might seem to be a few wild” ideas was worth while.
.- Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill that the House is now discussing is to amend the existing legislation to enable the present levy paid by wool-growers out of their wool proceeds at the rate of 10s. a bale to be extended for a further period of twelve months; that is, from June, 1962, to June, 1963. Before I come to the points that I want to make about this levy, Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to the speech made by the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay). I was more than astonished to hear a member of this House, and one whom we might expect to advance the claims and virtues of Australia’s basic product, putting that product in second place and extolling the virtues - if there are any - of the synthetic fibres that are in opposition to our wool industry. I am reminded that yesterday, in a question, he advocated the use of synthetic fibres by our armed forces, in place of wool.
– That is not right.
– I suggest that it will be bad promotion for Australian wool if the world finds that wool is not good enough for members of Australia’s armed forces to wear. I leave it at that.
I want to refer to the speech made by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) on this bill. Speaking this morning, he launched an attack on the wool-growers. He said that only In the 1950’s had sufficient interest been aroused in wool promotion for the wool-growers to play some part in this activity.
– That is right, too.
– That interjection shows the lamentable ignorance of the honorable member who made it. I know that you, Mr. Speaker, will not allow me to say that honorable members opposite are liars, because that word is unparliamentary; but I can say that they are ignorant. The wool promotion levy was first paid by the woolgrowers of Australia in 1936.
– Very reluctantly, too.
– That remark shows that members of the Australian Labour Party not only are not vitally interested in the welfare of primary producers, but also are not even well-informed on what the primary producers really want and on their activities.
I want to make some reference to the speech made by the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn). In fact, I am bound to take violent objection to the remarks he made about the Farmers Union of Western Australia and the wool-growers of that State. This afternoon, the honorable member for Farrer referred to the Farmers Union in Western Australia, to resolutions it had passed and to its action in connexion with this wool levy at a meeting of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. He said that the Farmers Union in Western Australia was controlled by a few cranks. I repeat that I take the most violent objection to that statement, because it is a slur upon the wool-growers themselves. The leaders whom they elect are certainly not cranks.
I remind the honorable member for Farrer and other honorable members, including the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), that the meetings which discussed the wool levy and wool marketing - the two subjects are inter-related - were attended by delegates representing the producers of approximately 82 per cent, of the wool grown in Western Australia. That is an overwhelming majority of the woolgrowers of Western Australia. Those delegates had the task of submitting the view of the Western Australian wool-growers to a meeting of the Australian Wool and Meat ( Producers Federation held in Melbourne last week. At that meeting, they submitted, not their personal view, but the view of the overwhelming majority of the Western Australian wool-growers. Therefore, when the honorable member suggests that the leaders of the Farmers Union in Western < Australia are cranks, he is suggesting in an indirect way that the growers are cranks, and that is most objectionable to me.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) - I do not propose to let him off - said he was disappointed at the attitude taken by the wool-growers of Western Australia to this wool levy. He accused them of taking a narrow view. I remind the honorable member that many of the stabilization schemes how operating in Australia - schemes which have put primary production on a stable footing - and many of the orderly marketing schemes had their genesis amongst the growers of Western Australia. In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
At a joint meeting on 4th April between the Australian Wool Bureau and the two federal organizations of wool-growers represented on the Bureau, namely the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, it was agreed by the three bodies to recommend that the current wool promotion levy of 10s. a bale on all shorn wool produced in Australia be continued for another year.
The Government is, therefore, now acting in accordance with the wishes of the wool-growing industry.
I confess quite frankly that, as I consider this bill, 1 find myself facing a dilemma. It is true that that combined meeting carried a resolution in favour of an extension of the levy, but, prior to that meeting, the extension of the levy was discussed at a meeting of the Austraiian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. I quote an extract from the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 5th April relating to that meeting, lt is as follows -
The size of the 1962-63 levy was in doubt until yesterday, when the Australian Wool and Meat Producers’ Federation’s half-yearly conference voted by three States to two to continue the levy at 10s. a bale.
Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia defeated a move by Western Australia and Queensland to revert to the 5s. a bale levy existing in 1960-61.
So there was not a unanimous decision by the wool-growers on this levy. I regret, as I know the Minister and everybody sitting in this corner of the House regrets, that there is a conflict between the growers on the question of this levy and on the question of marketing, which is closely related to the levy. It was the question of marketing which caused the Western Australian growers to adopt the attitude which they did adopt, in conjunction with the Queensland growers. The newspaper report to which I have referred continued -
Western Australia said it would challenge the legality of the 10s. levy.
I find myself in a difficult position. The Farmers Union of Western Australia - a body for which I have the highest respect, and a body which has done a tremendous amount of good for every section of primary industry in Western Australia - wrote me a letter outlining its attitude and stating its opinions on this question. Referring to the conclusions and recommendations of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry, this body stated -
A summary of that report was considered by our 1962 annual wool section conference -
That is a conference of the growers - and the full report has now been carefully reviewed by the Section Executive. These meetings were attended by delegates representing approximately 82 per cent, of the wool produced in our State.
The decision reached at the conference was -
Conference emphatically rejects the proposal to contribute increased levies for wool promotion until the implementation of a marketing reserve price plan-
– Order! I direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that that matter has been ruled out of order as not being relevant to the bill.
– I will continue, Sir.
– Order! The honorable member will not continue along that line.
– -I do not propose to continue along that line. The resolution continues - and instructs its delegates to the forthcoming Federation Conference to strongly oppose extension beyond June 1962 of the increase of Ss. per bale agreed to for the current year.
– Is that the Farmers Union?
– That is the Farmers Union, the leaders of which the honorable member for Farrer said were a lot of cranks. The position is that there is some conflict of opinion. It cannot be denied that there is a very close relationship between wool marketing and wool promotion. The purpose of promotion is to ensure the marketing of wool. The Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry related the two subjects closely in its report.
In his second-reading speech, the Minister also said -
I think it is fair to say that over the years most Australian wool-growers have been fully conscious of the need to provide funds for wool promotion. This industry appreciation of the value of promotion is reflected in the fact that the rates of levy for this purpose have increased progressively from the original 6d. a bale in 1936 to 2s. in 1945, 4s. in 1952, 5s. in 1960 and 10s. in 1961.
As I mentioned earlier, over the years the wool-growers have been alive to the necessity for promotion, and promotion has been carried on from 1936 till now. But I remind the House that, despite this promotional work, in its report the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry points out that wool’s share of the textile fibre market has declined from 11 per cent, to 10 per cent., whilst that of synthetic fibres has risen from 1 per cent, to 5 per cent, and shows every sign of continuing to rise. The committee points to the necessity for relating this levy to marketing. The woolgrowers of Western Australia have stressed that promotion is not the only answer to the problem which confronts the growers generally. The question of marketing must come into this, especially as we are told in this report that in spite of promotion wool’s share in the textile fibre industry has actually been reduced over a period of years and the wool-growers’ price is going down. We have paid for promotion during all that time.
– The lack of it.
– I shall deal with the lack of promotion later. The wool-growers have been asked to contribute to a promotion scheme with a considerable amount of disappointment. I attended a meeting in Western Australia when Sir William Gunn came over there last year to sell to the growers in that State the idea of increasing the wool levy from 5s. to 10s. a bale. It was a well-attended meeting. I would say that Sir William Gunn had the hardest job in the world to convince those woolgrowers that promotion was something entirely separate from marketing. The growers were concerned with the price they were getting for their wool. They said that they would agree to the levy but that marketing was a question that must be looked at.
The wool committee of inquiry did look at the question of marketing and it did refer to the fact that the Western Australian growers required some form of stabilization scheme.
– Order! I direct the attention of the honorable member to the fact that it has been ruled that that matter is not relevant to the bill. Previous speakers have recognized that decision, and I ask the honorable member to recognize it.
– I am recognizing it. I am saying that in its reference to wool uses, wool promotion, wool buying and selling the committee’s report makes reference also to features which are weaknesses in the existing disposal system of wool. That reference is made in connexion with wool promotion; it is tied up with it. I ask honorable members to have a look in particular at paragraphs 10, 11, 15, 16, 18 and 20 of the committee’s report in which they will see clearly set out the points I am making. They will find that the committee of inquiry very carefully dodged the real issues involved.
I know that promotion is concerned with the future of the industry. Let me quote from paragraph 20, in which the committee had the following to say in connexion with the future: -
However, the present system of wool auctions does leave the woolgrower in a vulnerable position should further concentrations occur.
That is said in connexion with the promotion scheme. The two things are inseparable and have to be considered together. I come back to the unfortunate fact that wool-growers themselves are divided about what should be done about wool marketing, promotion, and in fact all phases of dealing with their product. I want it clearly understood that I am not criticizing or condemning the Government. If any criticism is to be made it should be levelled at the wool-growers’ organizations themselves for failing to get together on this matter. As I have said, the growers are divided and we will not be able to get very far until they are prepared to get together on these questions. The reason for their division is lack of cohesion. This division of opinion among the growers is one reason why the report of the committee of inquiry is as inconclusive as it is. I can only say that it is inconclusive. I am not condemning wool promotion, and the levy in this bill is for wool promotion. I am not condemning it nor do the wool-growers actually condemn it. They say that it is not an issue that can be considered on its own.
Like the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) I think that this is a case where the Government itself should take a lead as it does when there is an industrial disturbance. It calls the conflicting parties together, dozens of times if necessary, to see if their difficulties can be resolved and a satisfactory conclusion arrived at. That sort of thing should be done in order to see how the wool industry is to be promoted and how it is to be protected. The negotiations need to be handled in the best interests of the wool-growers themselves.
There has been some criticism of the wool promotion activities undertaken by the Australian Wool Bureau. That criticism has been raised in this House, by woolgrowers outside, and by the committee of inquiry itself. I can criticize the bureau too. I just do not know in what way its activities should be directed. I agree with what the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) had to say to-day when he displayed an advertisement which meant nothing. Sir William Gunn was told by womenfolk in Western Australia - at one of his 23 meetings which cost £20,000, when he was attempting to get this 10s. a bale levy - that the advertisements being used in wool promotion had no appeal whatsoever. Womenfolk over there have carried resolutions. Organizations like the Country Women’s Association have suggested that the bureau should list places where woollen goods can be bought. An approach should be made to retailers to promote the sale of woollen goods. I said to-day that I am wearing a woollen tie. This is the only tie that I have managed to buy in Australia, and I inquired in five States for a woollen tie. A retailer will hand you any kind of goods. He will tell you that woollen ties will not last and they will not do this or that. Like the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay) he will condemn wool because he is probably getting a greater profit, or a greater discount, on goods made of synthetic fibres than he is getting out of wool. Sir, I defy anybody to produce a tie that will stand up to the wear that this tie has stood up to.
The other question to which I wish to refer is a suggestion by the wool committee of inquiry that a new kind of commission should be set up in connexion with wool promotion. I am rather concerned at what is recommended in the report. In paragraph 56, the committee said -
We would emphasize that it is not sufficient simply to spend large sums of money on promotion. As part of the programme for the wide expenditure of funds for promotion, we consider it to be essential that such expenditure be based on scientifically conducted market research.
I do not object to that. The committee continued -
We are of opinion that the Australian Wool Bureau, as at present constituted, is not organized in the most effective form to put the necessary promotional techniques into operation.
I have no objection to that in particular. The report continued -
Wool-growers, we consider, are unlikely to be sufficiently well qualified in the field of promotion, using the term in its widest sense, to maintain close and detailed direction of promotion of Australia’s major product and greatest export.
That is said by the wool committee of inquiry. Let me take the case of a brewery. Does every member of the board of directors of a brewery know how to brew beer? He probably knows how to drink it, and that is all he does know. He employs experts to do the job for him. He is on the board to safeguard the interests of the people who have a share in the brewery. The representatives on the bureau are in a position similar to that of the directors of a company regardless of the product it handles. They represent the shareholders in the concern. They are there to look after the shareholders’ funds.
The committee of inquiry, in paragraph 64, went on to say -
It is because of the lack of a body concerned with marketing, the lack of a co-ordinating body, the lack of one voice which can speak for the industry and the defect in the set-up of the industry that we feel constrained to recommend the erection of a central commission or board upon whose decisions Government could confidently rely and which could speak with final authority on all matters affecting the industry.
Heaven forbid that a conclusion, or recommendation, like that should be adopted. Such a body would take out of the hands of the producers the control of their product. It would be anathema to members of my party who believe that the product of the land is the property of the producer, subject to meeting his just debts. We believe that he should maintain control of his product all the time. I agree that there is conflict. 1 agree that there is difficulty. But if anything can be done by governments or individuals to remedy the position then the attempt should be made. I know that the Minister for Primary Industry has made attempts. I urge him to keep on and not to be discouraged by the disappointments that he has had. He should try to get these people together and resolve their differences. They should be given an opportunity to guide the destiny of their industry as they have a right to guide it.
A lot has been said about supply and demand. The old shibboleth is that price is dependent on demand. I do not know that the owner of a factory decides to set the price of an article, before he makes it, to meet the demand for that article. He does not know what the demand will be. There is probably no demand for it when he starts its manufacture. He makes a demand and fixes a price. He promotes sales after he has stated the price for his goods. He is afforded a degree of protection in this country. I shall not enlarge on that matter, Mr. Speaker, because it is the subject of another debate. But secondary industry has the advantage of promotion through protection, lt has that guarantee of a minimum price for its product - a price with a profit. Consequently, the manufacturer creates a market for his product. That is how the wool-growers should operate.
Sir William Gunn has said that there is no doubt about the future of our wool industry, because the demand is there. Then what the heck do we want promotion for? Sir William Gunn did not say that. I said it. Sir William Gunn said that the future is secure. He contradicts himself. There is a considerable amount of contradiction throughout statements on the subject of wool promotion and marketing. It is difficult to know the truth about this matter.
The only way in which the question can be resolved is by the Minister’s taking the initiative and saying to the growers, “We have to get together and resolve the problems before the difficulties and differences cause disruption in the industry “. Disruption does not exist now but it could happen.
The Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry told us that weaknesses existed in the present system of disposing of and promoting the sale of wool. They can be overcome but they will only be overcome on one basis - that the marketing of wool is given a priority. This is one of the arguments about which comes first - the hen or the egg. I do not know. Which comes first? Wool promotion or wool marketing in the interests of the wool industry? In Western Australia we say that marketing is the fundamental matter and should have priority. Give us a stabilized basis and promotion will follow on successfully. Because the Wheat-growers and Woolgrowers Council has carried a resolution requesting the Government to extend the period of operation of this levy, I support it. While I do so I register the protest of the wool-growers of Western Australia against its extension without consideration of the other vital factors to be considered in connexion with the wool-growing industry.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Moore. Near the beginning of his speech, by omitting a very important word, he may have conveyed, inadvertently, to a large number of our soldiers the impression that I wanted to see them shiver in the winter time in cotton and terylene uniforms. What I said at the end of my question yesterday was that I hoped that Australian soldiers might receive the benefit of summer uniforms made with the lighter, tougher, longer-lasting cotton and terylene mixture.
The honorable member, in the latter part of his speech to-night, implied that I was a textile manufacturer. I would say that the proof that I am not a textile manufacturer is to be found in my near solvency.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 5th April (vide page 1367), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 5 th April (vide page 1367), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 15th March (vide page 863), on motion by Mr. Freeth -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, so far as I can gather, this is the first time that any Australian parliament has discussed a bill to confer voting rights on aboriginal people according a total entitlement for all aborigines to vote. I am aware, of course, that for many years aborigines in certain States have had full voting rights but that has not been because of the act of any Australian parliament. It was a legacy from the Imperial Parliament when the Imperial Parliament originally enacted the State constitutions. The measure before us effects five changes in the electoral law and one fundamental change in the concept on which the Commonwealth frames its electoral law. First, the measure repeals section 39 (6) of the principal act - the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1961. That section tied to the State franchise in every State the entitlement of aborigines to the Commonwealth franchise. If the State granted them the vote at State elections then entitlement to the Commonwealth vote followed. If the State did not grant an aboriginal the vote no entitlement to the Commonwealth vote in that State existed.
Secondly, the repeal of the same section deletes references to aborigines in the entitlement section of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. This has the effect of recognizing that they have the automatic entitlement to the Commonwealth franchise possessed by all other British subjects. Thirdly, the measure has the effect of establishing voluntary enrolment for all aborigines in the Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania. Fourthly, it sets up penal provisions directed against any who seek to bribe or intimidate aborigines to enrol or to refrain from enrolling. Fifthly, it changes Commonwealth law as it now applies in Victoria and New South Wales.
Up to the present in Victoria and New South Wales aborigines have been subject to the same compulsory provisions of the law as other persons. The Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines recommended the retention of compulsory enrolment provisions in Victoria and New South Wales. The great change in the concept on which the Commonwealth frames its electoral law is really a reversion by the Commonwealth to the clear intention of the United Kingdom Parliament when it enacted the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act in 1900 and when it enacted the State constitutions which underlie the Commonwealth Constitution in the federal system. The men who framed the constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia thought in terms of an Imperial community of people in many lands who were subjects of the Crown of the United Kingdom. They did not think in terms of a Canadian citizenship or an Australian citizenship, and they had no thought of a status of British subjecthood without citizenship. On the settlement which they produced the late Sir John Quick and the late Sir Robert Garran could write -
The people of the Commonwealth constitute only one group of the subjects of the Queen. The people of the Commonwealth are those people who are permanently domiciled within the territorial limits of the Commonwealth. Territorially such people may be called Australians but constitutionally they are described as subjects of the Queen and British subjects. They do not lose their chaarcter as people of the Commonwealth by migrating from one State to another any more than they lose their national character by migrating from one part of the Empire to another.
The legislation sets the Commonwealth Government free of the negative concept of section 41 of the Constitution. Let me remind the House, through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of the terms of section 41 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. The section reads -
No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
That section was never intended to take voting rights away from any electors. Rather was it a guarantee that voting rights could not be taken away. While the section prevents the Commonwealth from taking the vote from people to whom the State gives it, it does not prevent the Commonwealth from giving the vote to people to whom the State does not give it. Until the amendment of the Commonwealth Electoral Act that is now before the House becomes law the position is that an aboriginal in Queensland, fully a Torres Strait Islander or of Australian aboriginal descent, because of permanent State electoral disqualification, cannot acquire the right to vote at Commonwealth elections. If of mixed descent he may become exempt from being classified as an aboriginal under the State law and may then vote at State and, as a consequence, at Commonwealth elections. In Western Australia any one classified as a native cannot vote until he acquires what the State calls citizen rights, and that provision governs the Commonwealth franchise up to this moment in Western Australia. An aboriginal of the Northern Territory cannot vote if he is a ward. Aborigines of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia may vote in Commonwealth elections. That is an entitlement arising out of their right to vote in State elections. Although homo Tas.maniensis no longer exists there are scores of mainland aborigines in Tasmania and they may vote in State and Commonwealth elections.
An aboriginal who transfers from Western Australia to Victoria goes on to the Commonwealth electoral roll and goes off it again when he returns to Western
Australia. This has been the experience of aboriginal students for the ministry in a particular church who have gone to Victoria for training. It has also been the experience of aboriginal bush trackers brought down from Queensland for service with the Victorian Police Force.
I would be giving the House a false impression if I were to convey the idea that some States or Territories have granted the vote to aborigines. That is not the position. The real position is that Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory have taken the vote away from aborigines. All aboriginal Australians are British subjects. When Victoria and New South Wales had constitutions conferred upon them by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1855, manhood suffrage was conferred on all subjects of the Queen; that is, on all British subjects, including aborigines. The same thing occurred in South Australia and Tasmania in 1856, in Queensland in 1859 and in Western Australia in 1890. Queensland and Western Australia took the franchise away from aborigines, but the other States did not. It should be remembered that at the time of federation South Australia included what is now the Northern Territory, and hence the aborigines of the Northern Territory were affected by South Australian electoral law.
I want to illustrate my point purely with a reference to Western Australia. When the Parliament of the United Kingdom gave Western Australia a constitution in 1890 it intended that the rights granted under that constitution should apply to all British subjects. Again and again before self-government was granted to Western Australia the Colonial Secretary in the United! Kingdom Government remonstrated with the early Governors of Western Australia that aborigines were fully British subjects and that their rights were the same as those of the colonists.
After self government, when the Parliament of Western Australia set out to alter the status of aborigines established under the legislation of 1905, the Governor of the day reserved the legislation for the Crown and the Government of the United Kingdom to consider. We are thus presented to-day with the fact that there is no such thing as citizenship in the sense of a New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland, South Australian or Tasmanian citizenship, but the State Parliament of Western Australia has created a Western Australian form of citizenship or citizenships rights. The only people who have to apply for that citizenship and be given a citizenship rights certificate are aborigines or natives within the definition of the State law.
This concept of a citizen in Western Australia is inconsistent with the rightful status of the aborigines as subjects of the Queen. The legislation now before this Parliament means that in extending the franchise to aborigines in Queensland and Western Australia, the Commonwealth is no longer violating the spirit of its own Constitution and is no longer violating the spirit of the original constitutions of Queensland and Western Australia. Those States at the moment of the inception of their constitutions had equality of electoral status for aborigines but removed their rights.
The issue of the presence of aborigines on State rolls was fully discussed at the Constitution Convention which framed the Constitution of the Commonwealth. Those discussions established that nothing in the proposed Constitution of the Commonwealth suggested the removal of the rights of British subjects from aborigines. In the Adelaide session in 1897, section 127 of the Constitution came under discussion. Section 127 states that -
In reckoning the numbers of people of the Commonwealth or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.
Dr. Cockburn of the South Australian delegation immediately rose and urged that aboriginal people who were on the rolls should not be debarred from voting, but it was pointed out that this clause had nothing to do with their rights and did not affect them. The reference will be found at page 1020 of the Constitutional Convention Debates at Adelaide. There was no sense of race discrimination in section 127 of the Constitution.
The census among the aborigines was physically impossible to carry out considering the transport and communications conditions in 1 897. Those of us who travelled to remote areas by air in connexion with the work of the Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines know how impossible enumeration of aborigines would have been until very recently. Most States before federation could not, in fact, have carried out a count of the aborigines. The legislation now before us, like the report of the Select Committee on the Voting Rights of Aborigines founds the franchise on the basic concept that aborigines are subjects of the Queen. That is the basic concept of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act and the basic concept of every State Constitution.
In Australia, anterior to any constitution, there existed the binding force of the whole structure of English common law. English common law is founded upon the principle of feudal allegiance. All were subjects of the sovereign if born within the sovereign’s domain. Hence the Constitution simply refers to subjects of the Queen. These were popularly called British subjects. When voting rights were extended to British subjects in the Australian colonies, it was intended by the United Kingdom Parliament that they be given to all born in the sovereign’s Australian domain and hence to the aborigines.
I would like to comment on what I referred to as the fifth alteration in electoral law proposed in this measure. The Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines recommended in paragraph 41 section (1) -
That, because the aboriginal people in New South Wales and Victoria have long been integrated into the Australian community, early administrative action be taken so that the compulsory provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act relating to enrolment and voting be applied to them.
This is actually the law now, but it is not being enforced. For all other aborigines, the committee recommended in paragraph 77-
That, for the time being, the enrolment of aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders be voluntary, but when enrolled, compulsory voting be enforced.
The reason for this differentiation between aborigines and Europeans was practical, not racial. In paragraph 78, the committee report states -
In making these recommendations your Committee is concerned that the extension of the compulsory provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to many aborigines still in the tribal state, or recently emerged from the tribal state, or not completely integrated into the Australian community, could result in grave injustice. These people have not perceived the relevance of parliamentary elections in their lives, so to compel enrolment would be harsh.
Again, in paragraph 80 it states -
Your Committee considers voluntary enrolment a temporary provision in respect of the aboriginal people, and one which creates immediately an entitlement to the franchise for those who desire the franchise, without injustice to those who do not desire it or simply have no use for it in a tribal or nomadic life.
The committee felt that these reasons do not apply in Victoria and New South Wales where aborigines are not in the tribal state. It is difficult to see insuperable difficulties in applying all compulsions to aborigines in Victoria and New South Wales and not in other States. This is the recommendation the Government has not accepted. For years, the Electoral Act has differentiated between States in that it has followed the differing State franchises for aborigines. If it could do so on no principle other than following the State, it could differentiate on an estimate of the degree to which assimilation has taken place.
We expect that in time all aborigines can accept the compulsion applied to the rest of the community and could already do so in New South Wales and Victoria. This equality of obligation is a logical consequence of their inherent equal status as subjects of the Queen after certain practical difficulties created by their mode of life have passed away.
Clauses 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the bill which deal with bribery and duress, define bribery as including certain acts, and undue influence, such as threatening, offering or suggesting violence, injury, punishment, damage or disadvantage in connexion with enrolment of aborigines seem to me to meet the recommendations of the select committee.
I invite your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to paragraphs 82 and 85 of this report. I presume that if these recommendations are accepted, they will be implemented by administrative procedure. We are dealing with many people without a history of exercising the franchise, and those charged with effecting their enrolment should be responsible officers of the Com monwealth. The paragraphs I refer to read as follows: -
To the common objection that some aborigines are not ready to be enfranchised the report replies with paragraph 89, which is in these terms -
It is considered better that a right be granted before there is a full capacity to exercise it on the part of some individuals, than that others should suffer the frustration of being denied a right that they can clearly exercise.
Let me say that all the evidence presented to us relating to polling places where the voters were almost exclusively aborigines indicated that their rate of informal voting was very much better than that of the general European community in the Commonwealth.
The committee asks the House to be clear that it founds legislation on the principles set out in paragraph 90, which states -
The Crown is a focal point of common allegiance and people with a common allegiance born in a common political territory, such as the Commonwealth of Australia, should have common electoral rights.
The committee felt that we must not discriminate on the ground of race or penalize for lack of opportunity.
It is important for us to recognize that the people whom we are enfranchising are an important and rapidly growing part of thi community of the Commonwealth. There is now no truth in the implication e t the negative title of the book by the late Mrs. Daisy Bates, “The Passing of the
Aborigines “. In paragraph 4 the committee pointed out -
The aboriginal people are increasing in numbers. Changes have occurred in the customs of the great majority which ensure, in the words of one of our witnesses, “ that they will never tend to die out again “. Their children are numerous and healthy right across the north of this continent. Education in hygiene is reducing the incidence of disease, and prolonging life, while the birthrate is rising and marriage is tending to be influenced by Christian concepts. Unlike traditional aboriginal marriage it is becoming in more and more cases a partnership between young people of no great disparity of age. The aboriginal people are a permanent part of the Australian community.
Similarly, the Torres Strait Island people are increasing in number. The Tiwis of Melville and Bathurst Islands have the highest net survival rate - that is, the highest rate of population growth - in the southern hemisphere and very possibly in the world. Much the same is true of the people at Kalumburu in the Kimberley area of Western Australia, the people of Groote Eylandt and Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, and the people of Weipa and Mona Mona in the north of Queensland. In all these areas the one factor in the increase is that the people are under the protection of missions or other responsible authorities. They do not meet the evils of drink, prostitution and economic exploitation arising from contact with wronglymotivated people in the European community. They live in contact with Europeans who act constantly on the assumption that European and aboriginal are alike answerable to God.
Less satisfactory are the conditions on some stations and near towns, where aborigines have the worst of both worlds - their own marriage customs leading to old men monopolizing groups of young women and, in conjunction with the loss of hunting land, tending thereby to race extinction; or neglect as an under-privileged group in contact with the worst Europeans.
Since 1928 many people of mixed aboriginal and European descent have been entitled to the Commonwealth franchise. Classified as natives under the laws of some States, they have been confused by the fact that they were not entitled to the State vote. As a consequence they have never applied for the Commonwealth vote. The publicity this measure is receiving, and new activity by the Commonwealth electoral officers to enrol aborigines which will result from this measure, will cause thousands of these people to enrol. Ostensibly the measure does not apply to them since they always have had the entitlement. But aborigines do not know their rights. One good consequence of this legislation is that responsible Commonwealth officers will tell them their rights.
We need to face some problems associated with this measure. One of them is especially a feature in the Northern Territory. Aborigines change their names. Another problem applies to aboriginal people and part-aboriginal people. They are mostly poorly housed and have no stability of domicile. I am speaking now of the aboriginal people who do not live under protection. In making this observation, I am not referring to people in the tribal state.
I would stress to the House the need for what one of the committee’s Western Australian witnesses called generosity. Most aborigines live in a warm climate and the sharpest effects of poor housing are not felt. But the southern States and the great southern area of Western Australia are cold in winter. We saw people classified as natives by the Western Australian authorities living under extremely bad conditions near Narrogin, Wagin, Katanning, Gnowangerup, Borden and Ongerup in the depth of wintry weather. We met one witness who was a crack shearer and who earned £140 a week. He had saved money in the hope of buying a home, but was not allowed by the local authority to buy land or to build a home in the local authority’s area, so he bought a Ford Customline motor car. I always thought that if a Ford Customline motor car stood outside an aborigine’s humpy that was a sign of fecklessness. Actually, denied the chance to apply his savings to the buying of a home, the purchase of this car was the means whereby this man could enable his family to escape from their miserable conditions. It was tragic to see people living in conditions which undermined family life. In my view, the Commonwealth, by assisting the States, could end the unsatisfactory housing conditions of these people within a very few years. Stability of domicile is presupposed in our electoral laws. If we end this housing under-privilege, we shall arrive at stable electorates.
The advances in this measure are so great that even if the Government does not accept our proposed amendment we shall support it. While we ask for compulsion to be applied in Victoria and New South Wales, we recognize that extremely few people are affected by our proposed amendment, although the principle is very important. I think the numbers are 253 in Victoria and 1,300 in New South Wales. They are the people in those States fully of aboriginal descent. But there are many more partly of aboriginal descent who would cease to be confused about their obligations if compulsion were explained and applied.
In the past in Victoria and New South Wales, being an aboriginal or partaboriginal was, in practice, treated as a lawful excuse for not enrolling and voting. Compulsion existed in theory. This inconsistency has helped keep those people as an under-privileged group. Because they were not on the roll, no political meetings were held at their settlements and their needs were not stated to candidates or seen by candidates. When some had the chance to meet the select committee at Woodenbong it dawned on them that here was something to their advantage. Had compulsion been applied, as it should have been applied in accordance with the electoral laws of both the State and the Commonwealth, the relevance to their lives of possessing the vote would have dawned on them earlier. The Minister for the Interior feels that the Commonwealth should have a uniform law. But for decades we have managed to administer differing electoral laws concerning aborigines, in that we have followed the differing State laws in each State.
– Under compulsion of the Constitution.
– Not under compulsion, because the Commonwealth could go beyond what the State did, but it could not do less. But I think that a negative view was taken of section 41 of the Constitution until the present Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) took office. There is no reason why we should not have differing laws in different States now, if there are strong reasons of principle for doing so. The Opposition feels that there are strong reasons of principle. If all aborigines in Australia were placed as those in Victoria and New South Wales are placed, the select committee would never have recommended voluntary enrolment. Its recommendation for differentiation in the enrolment provisions was not to establish differentiation between aborigines and Europeans. It had no racial difference in mind. Its point of differentiation was to meet the problem of the nomads, the tribal people, and the very primitive. Differentiation was on social, not racial, facts. The committee regarded the recommendation for voluntary enrolment as a temporary and passing measure. In Victoria and New South Wales there are no nomads, tribal people, or very primitive people, so there was no ground for putting the aborigines in those States on any other footing than that of the rest of the electorate. The committee therefore recommended that they should be on the same footing as the rest of the electors in Victoria and New South Wales. The Opposition will support that recommendation by its amendment.
Mr. Speaker, what is the future of the people we are now proposing to enfranchise? Let us be clear that we are enfranchising a people with a future, a permanent and expanding part of our community. Volume 1, No. 1, of the official publication, “ Australian Territories “, the issue for January, 1962, refers on page 24 to “ Australia’s 100,000 aborigines”. Earlier publications have given the estimate as 70,000 persons called aborigines or natives by the States, the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory, with another 30,000 who have, as it were, been fully absorbed into the community of the Commonwealth and have no dealings with any authorities on the basis of being considered aborigines or part-aborigines. This is doubtless how the figure of 100,000 is arrived at in the most recent publication of the Department of Territories to which I have just referred.
A satisfactory fact is the increase in the numbers of the aboriginal people on missions and government settlements. I was impressed at these places with the difference in demeanour of these aborigines, as compared with the demeanour of aborigines on some cattle stations or near towns. Aborigines near towns or cattle stations reflected the care or the neglect that they experienced. There were marked differences in the coastal towns of the north-west of Western Australia, according to whether or not the communities accepted responsibility towards the aborigines. It may be a very chastening thought for some of those communities that we, as outsiders, thought that the aborigines who were either praised or denounced by those communities were extremely faithful reflections of the communities with which they were associated. The revolution in marriage concepts referred to in the report in relation to missions has not taken place everywhere, nor is population growth universal.
In the course of these remarks, critical observations have been made about aboriginal voting rights in Queensland and northern Australia, or perhaps they may be inferred. One must explain why one feels that the Commonwealth should not continue to follow the electoral laws of those two States. On the more basic questions of survival and literacy, one must recognize Queensland’s achievements. Some 90 per cent, of aborigines south of Cairns and 60 per cent, of those to the north - the select committee members were told - are literate, and the State conscientiously aims to protect them. Voting rights are not the only needs of the aboriginal people. They need a purpose in life and the means to enable them to live at no disadvantage in the community of the Commonwealth. They need a life of dignity. The States need Commonwealth assistance to reach these objectives. The aborigines are harmed by policies which alienate land as if they did not exist, by policies which leave them housed under conditions destroying their family life and dignity, and by policies which relegate them to the position of fringe dwellers. Perhaps these results stem from lack of policies.
It is the wish of the Opposition that the franchise which is now to be extended will be used by aborigines as a means of advancing themselves within the community of the Commonwealth. For the Parliament itself, we are enacting for the first time a logical and just basis of entitlement to the franchise, which elects the Parliament of the Commonwealth and forms the Executive Government of the Commonwealth. Every subject of the Queen, of voting age in the
Commonwealth, will have the inherent right to vote. That is exactly what the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the author of all our constitutions, State and Commonwealth, intended. It is common sense and justice and the Opposition supports the measure.
.- I am not only pleased but also honoured to follow the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in this debate to-night. All of us on this side of the House will echo a great deal of what he has said. The great thing is that the report of the Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines was unanimous, and at no time during our journeys throughout the Commonwealth did we really dissent on any matter of great importance. I endorse with very great enthusiasm the manner in which this matter has been put by the honorable member for Fremantle. I think that he would join me, before I proceed further, in echoing thanks to the chairman of that committee, who is no longer a member of this Parliament.
– Most definitely.
– I hope that this committee will be known to posterity as the Pearce committee, because Mr. Pearce did a grand job and we were all glad to serve with him as chairman.
– I should certainly like to be identified with that.
– The honorable member has set out for us very clearly the legalistic position in each State that we visited. I should like to discuss some of the other matters that we considered as we journeyed through the Commonwealth and some of the points that arose in our minds. The great thing is that we agreed generally on what should be done. All of us are very pleased indeed that the Government has accepted almost entirely every one of our recommendations.
We should like to make certain that the States of Queensland and Western Australia, particulraly, will now follow suit with legislation such as that which we are about to enact. I believe that already Western Australia has undertaken to follow our example, and I am very glad indeed to hear it. I think that we should look at this matter not quite as the honorable member for Fremantle suggested, that is, as a big advance, but rather as just a step in the progress of the aboriginal race in Australia. We are proposing to give members of that race the franchise. As will be seen from the committee’s report, the right to vote has not meant a great deal to people in the nomadic state. We found, as we went around the Commonwealth, that it has really been an irrelevant concept and has not meant a thing to them. As honorable members who have read the report will realize, very few aborigines are still in the nomadic state. Possibly there are not more than 2,000 in Western Australia and 250 in the Northern Territory, and there are none in Queensland. The people to whom the concept of a vote has been an irrelevant concept are now very few.
This is the time at which the next step should be taken and I am very glad that the Government has agreed to take it. As the committee has said, not once but on many occasions, no person is excluded from the Commonwealth franchise on the ground of race. These people have been excluded in the past because the concept has been irrelevant to them. It is obvious that persons of the aboriginal race now realize - not because we have forced them to it but because they have come to it voluntarily - that they must adopt the sort of European civilization that exists in Australia. If they are to adopt that sort of civilization, then the right to vote goes with it. That is why I believe this is the time we should take the next step.
I agree that while some people are still moving from the nomadic system of civilization to the European system of civilization, there will be times when the concept of a vote is irrelevant. It would be wrong to force such people to vote or to enrol them. I am glad, therefore, that at this stage we are making this a voluntary concept. I hope, as I think every member of the committee would hope, that this will be only a temporary situation. Some of us thought that possibly within ten years we may be able to get away from the voluntary concept and adopt the compulsory concept, but that is for time to tell.
As the honorable member for Fremantle said, at the moment Victoria and New South Wales have compulsory enrolment for aboriginal people. The honorable member has foreshadowed an amendment, but I think even if the amendment were adopted we would still have a problem. These people still move over State borders. A person in the Northern Territory or in South Australia is not required to enrol, but if he journeys over the border into New South Wales or Victoria he would have to enrol. Metaphorically speaking, what we would gain on the swings we might lose on the roundabouts. No person should be excluded on the ground of race, but there are still problems of movement over borders. We met this problem on almost every occasion we moved from one State to another, and I think we should keep that in mind. We must also remember, as the honorable member for Fremantle said, that the aboriginal people living in Victoria and New South Wales are preponderantly of European or of half-caste descent. The number of people with fullblood is very small.
Again we ran up against the problem of definition. I presume in this bill we are still using the definition given by the Attorney-General in 1929. Under that definition, any person who is not more than half-caste or who is preponderantly of aboriginal descent is an aboriginal. This is not like the definition used in the Northern Territory. We must keep this question of definition in mind. But I want to get away from it for the moment because I think that subject has been well covered by the honorable member for Fremantle.
I want to deal with the wider problems that we met as we journeyed round the Commonwealth. There is the problem of the relationship between the European race and the aboriginal race. I started out wondering how we were to regard the problems of the mixture of races. I finished up firmly convinced that the policy of assimilation followed by the Government is the only solution. The aborigines are realizing that they cannot maintain their aboriginal type of civilization and voluntarily are coming to adopt the European civilization. If they are doing this voluntarily, I think it is our duty to ensure that they pass through the period of assimilation as rapidly as possible. We have made mistakes in the past, but I do not think there is any need for us in this Parliament to apologize for past failures.
The committee found that the number of members of the aboriginal race is growing rapidly. The policies now being followed are wise in concept. It is important to realize that the members of the mixed race are growing in number faster than are the full-bloods. We must remember that people who are half-caste are as much European as they are aboriginal.
– But the full-bloods of Melville and Bathurst Islands are growing fastest of all in number.
– I agree with that. We are just as much responsible for them as people of the aboriginal race are responsible for them. They are both half-caste and aboriginal, and we must recognize that fact. The bill before us recognizes the present situation. The important point is that if we grant them now the right to vote, that right will be properly effective only if these people are trained to exercise the right, and they should receive training in this regard as quickly as possible. If the aborigines live a communal life, it is difficult for them to appreciate the concept of the individual. The concept of the vote is an individualistic concept and we have to turn their minds away from the communal system of thinking into the individualistic system of thinking.
These people must take their full place in European society, because that is what is meant by the system of the franchise. They must accept responsibility. Frequently during our travels we found how difficult this is. We must instil in them a purpose in life that is different from the purpose they have had in the nomadic system of civilization. We must lead them to adopt a European type of purpose. To do this, we must ensure that full employment is available to them and that they are properly housed. I suppose that housing is the most important aspect of all. We must also ensure that they are properly educated in order to take their place in a European civilization. All this applies particularly to people between the ages of fourteen and 21 years.
If we as a Commonwealth now grant them the franchise, we must not neglect our Commonwealth responsibility to train them so that they may properly exercise their right to vote. We must ensure that the education, housing and employment of the aboriginal people and the instilling of a purpose in life for them is completed as quickly as possible. That is inherent in all that we said in our report. I think the honorable member for Fremantle has stressed this and I echo what he has said.
I would like to digress to deal with one issue that I think is important, and that is the status of the people living in the islands of the Torres Strait. Generally, we have seen a great deal being done for the people of the aboriginal race. When I went to the Torres Strait islands, I was horrified at the lack of help for the people there. I do not believe that the present Queensland Government and past governments of that State have done enough for the people living on those islands.
The policy of this Commonwealth Government is that every person, including both aborigines and Torres Strait islanders, shall be assimilated and become Australian citizens. I do not believe that the policy of governments of Queensland regarding the people living on the islands in Torres Strait has been directed to that end. Possibly, governments of that State have had some idea that the islands have defence significance. When the islands were taken over in the 1880’s by Queensland, the State government of that day may have said: “ No European would want to live on the Torres Strait islands. We have to make certain that the people who are now living there remain so that nobody else will take over the islands and live there.” I think that the policy of successive Queensland governments has been to say to the Torres Strait islanders, “You have to stay where you are”. The policy of this Commonwealth Government should be the policy to be followed by the Queensland Government. We should see that every person living on the islands of Torres Strait has an opportunity to be properly assimilated into the life of this Commonwealth of Australia.
Having been to the Torres Strait islands a number of times I feel that the present policy is possibly one of paternalism. The person in charge of administration of the islands of Torres Strait is Mr. Killoran, who is known as the uncrowned king of Thursday Island. I think that he is a wicked man and that the policy which he has adopted for many years now is entirely wrong. He has tried to anchor the people to the islands. Everything possible should be done to change that policy and give the people of the islands a fair go and a reasonable opportunity to be properly assimilated into the life of this great Commonwealth.
I am very glad indeed that the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) is listening to me now. 1 believe that he could do a great deal in this House to help the people of the Torres Strait islands. Although he has been a member of this place for some years I have not often heard him speak on this subject.
– I am listed to speak, provided that the Government does not gag the debate.
– I hope that the honorable member will speak later and that he will really give the Torres Strait islanders a go. All of us are to blame to an extent, but this Government at least has now taken action to give these people the right to vote. I hope that when they have been enfranchised they will play their part in making certain that they get a better chance in life than they have had so far. That is one of the consequences that ought to follow. 1 think that the people of the Torres Strait islands, of all the people whom we will help by means of this measure, need the greatest amount of help, and I hope that they will get it. I am sure that the Government’s action will be the first step towards ensuring that the people of the Torres Strait islands get a fair go.
I want the conscience of every person in Australia to be roused in the cause of helping the people who live on the Torres Strait islands. I do not think that, up to now, the public conscience has been so roused. Every Queensland government has been to blame in this matter. The people of the islands are now being given a chance to become assimilated. In the last few weeks, this Government has increased the repatriation benefits payable to those islanders who served in the forces during the Second World War. That is another way in which we are at least trying to help the Torres Strait islanders. I hope that that improvement in repatriation benefits and the enfranchising of the islanders will be only the first of many steps that will be taken to improve the opportunities of these people. We ought to ensure that they are given free access to the mainland and fair opportunities to obtain on the mainland employment of the kind that they need.
May I for a moment deal with some of the administrative procedures which come to notice as a result of the report of the Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) talked about some of the costs of extending the franchise. 1 know that this will be a costly procedure in the Torres Strait islands, but I do not believe that any cost is too great. No expense should deter us from extending voting facilities to every person who is eligible to vote, and I hope that, whatever the cost, we shall ensure that at the next election every person who is enfranchised has easy access to proper voting facilities.
– The Torres Strait islanders are not aborigines. Docs the honorable member know that?
– I do not say that they are aborigines.
– By definition, they are aborigines.
– It is important to note that by definition they are aborigines within the meaning of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. That act is based on the Constitution, which binds each one of us here. We ought to make certain that the Torres Strait islanders have the right to vote.
We should select specially qualified electoral officers to undertake the voluntary enrolment of the aborigines and Torres Strait islanders to whom the franchise is being extended. The select committee recommended voluntary enrolment as a result of its inquiries. At Bathurst Island, the members of the committee saw an electoral demonstration. We realized that only by efforts of that sort could the concept of voting and of Parliament be properly understood. I can illustrate the degree of understanding on the part of many aborigines by telling the House of an occasion when Mr. Pearce, the chairman of the committee, asked an aboriginal, “ What do you mean by ‘ Parliament ‘ ? “ The answer was, “ Telephones “. That was a typical response. We have to get this concept of Parliament and voting across, and I think that the job can be done only by specially qualified electoral officers. I hope that such officers will be appointed as early as possible.
We must realize, also, that the aborigines’ communal concept of life creates difficulties when one aboriginal suddenly gets the right to vote - or any other right - and his relatives and friends do not get a similar right. We have seen this recently in the case of Peter Australia in the Northern Territory. There may be instances in which we ought to encourage a whole tribe to become enfranchised at once.
I ask the Minister to consider the preparation of a special film which can be used to demonstrate voting procedures and to bring the aborigines to an understanding of the proper concept of voting. Such a film could be produced in co-operation with the authorities in charge of native affairs not only in the Northern Territory but also in Queensland and Western Australia, and it would do much to promote cooperation by the aborigines with those authorities. 1 ask the Minister particularly to provide more polling booths, especially in the Northern Territory. When the Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines visited the Territory there were, I think, only three polling booths in the whole of the Territory. Let us hope that more will be provided and that booths will be provided also throughout the Kimberleys and other areas where there are aborigines, as well as on every island in Torres Strait.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am sure that the aim of all of us is not only to enfranchise these new voters throughout Australia but also to make certain that they themselves see that their needs are made known in this Parliament by their representatives here and, through those representatives, to the whole of the Australian nation. The needs of the native peoples have been well set forth here by the honorable member for
Fremantle and they were well stated to the select committee by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) when he testified. The honorable member for Leichhardt, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) represent in this place the areas in which the greatest numbers of aborigines live. It was noticeable that not one of the representatives of those electorates gave evidence before the select committee, although the new voters now being enfranchised will be represented by them.
– The previous representative of Kalgoorlie was a member of the committee.
– I hope that the new member for Kalgoorlie will be just as keen to attend in this House to the needs of the aboriginal people as was his predecessor.
I am glad that the Opposition does not oppose this measure. I knew that it would not. But let us hope that it will do more than merely refrain from opposing the bill. Let us hope that Opposition members acquiesce fully in what is being done and that each honorable member who will represent the newly enfranchised voters in the coming years will do more than has been done in the past to bring before the Parliament the needs of the aboriginal people.
– It was the needs of those people which made you move to give them this privilege of the vote.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Leichhardt is realizing his problems.
– You are only playing at politics.
– No. It was this Government which appointed the committee, and it has now introduced the bill before the House. We are glad that the measure is being supported by every member of this House. As I have said, the members of the committee, as they journeyed about the Commonwealth, heard from the members of Parliament concerned with this problem of the needs of the aboriginal people. I know that honorable members are alive to the problem. We want to make certain that every person who is about to be enfranchised is able to make his needs known to this Parliament. If the aboriginal people do not have the right kind of representative in this place, I trust they will find somebody else to make their needs known.
– I am quite capable of making their needs known without any assistance from the honorable member.
– I shall look forward to the speech of the honorable member for Leichhardt on this bill. I believe that this is an historic measure and I am glad that it has the support of the whole of the Parliament.
.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) in some ways did himself great credit. The views he expressed showed a great advance on his thinking in other social fields. In other respects, he forgot the facts of history, although they were only twelve months old. Some twelve months ago we of the Australian Labour Party moved for amendment of the Electoral Act and, I propose this evening to ensure that it is made clear to all who read the record that this Government has come to this final step because it has been driven to it, particularly by pressure from this side of the House. It did not come to it as a matter of conscience. That can be clearly proved by reference to the record.
The honorable member for Fawkner referred to statements by honorable members on this side of the House. We have only to turn to the record to see how honorable members opposite voted not twelve months ago. Here, we have a Labour Party measure and a Labour Party principle being given effect by a Liberal government, which has been driven to it by public opinion and by the Labour Opposition. The Labour Party campaign in this House began some time ago. In August, 1960, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, asked questions about the voting rights of aborigines, a matter on which the Labour Party had had strong principles for a long time. About eighteen months ago, a fairly common demand had grown up amongst the people of Australia for justice for the aboriginal people. I have myself raised the matter by way of questions addressed to various Ministers, in speeches during adjournment debates and so on, over the five or six years that I have been a member of the Parliament. Then, in March last year, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) was asked whether he proposed to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Bill that was then before the House, so as to include a provision for which we on this side were pressing, and the Minister said that the bill was the same as a bill which had been before the House the previous year and which had been left at the second-reading stage. He said that he meant to leave it in the way in which it then was. The Labour Party had indicated that it proposed to move an amendment for the purpose of removing the disability from the aboriginal people.
There was a news item in the Sydney “Daily Mirror” of 22nd March last year under the heading “ Vote Bid for Natives - Labor in Campaign “. I have that article here, and all who wish to read it may do so. Later, of course, at the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party, which was held here in Canberra at Easter time, it was made absolutely clear where we of the Labour Party stood in this matter. The federal’ conference affirmed -
That all Australian aborigines and descendants of Australian aborigines must be full citizens of this country and should have all the rights that this statement implies, including the right to vote.
The resolution was moved by the present honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) and seconded by Mr. J. Bale. It was carried unanimously. The atmosphere became so pregnant that even the Minister for the Interior realized it was time that action was taken. That is why we are here to-night debating this matter, although only eleven months ago almost every honorable member on the other side of the chamber voted against it. It is with a great deal of pleasure that we of the Opposition look to the record and realize that, though we are in Opposition, we have achieved a major step forward towards amelioration of the lot of the aboriginal people of Australia.
As I turned up the record of the debates that took place on this subject last year, I was reminded that the Minister made the following statement, after 1 had spoken at some length and had been accused of beintedious on the subject -
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has his head away up in the clouds on this particular subject, and I have no doubt that he is quite happy to have it there.
That was said on 3rd May last. Now, we have this proposed amendment of the act, and we hear the honorable member for Fawkner accusing honorable members on this side of having dragged their feet in this particular field. I hope that the record makes the position absolutely clear.
At page 1419 of “ Hansard “ of 3rd May, 1961, a division list shows honorable members on the other side of the chamber voting against a Labour amendment to give voting rights to the aboriginal people of Australia. That list of names includes, of course, the name of the honorable member for Fawkner.
– And that of the Minister.
– And the name of the Minister, too. For some odd reason, it appears that the then honorable member for Kalgoorlie missed the division. The present honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) contested the recent general election on Labour policies and, of course, carried the day. I think it is important to appreciate that it was a very slow and stumbling step that the Government took in appointing the committee. Now, some 22,000 miles and eleven months later, the act is being amended.
There are still some things to be done by the Commonwealth in this connexion. 1 understand, and I am pleased to hear it, that the necessary ordinances in the Northern Territory are to be amended to make similar provision applicable at local elections in the Territory. I hope that those honorable members on the other side of the chamber who have spoken so proudly about this measure will use every resource at their disposal to ensure that the non-Labour governments of Queensland and Western Australia immediately take action to do likewise, because it is idle to claim that something is being done for the aborigines of Australia if, in effect, over a great mass of the country they are still deprived of this fundamental right. I believe that that is an important step that must be taken. ! There are so many aspects of this question which could be raised and debated here. Those honorable members who have spoken so far in the debate have, of course, referred to the general disabilities to which the aborigines of Australia are still heir. It is an unfortunate fact that the act and regulations in Queensland are probably the most restrictive on any Australian statutebook. They must be amended before the aboriginal people of Queensland can walk in their streets with full freedom and full self-respect. It is a legal fact that the newest migrant is a freer person in Queensland than is an aboriginal. No aboriginal in Queensland, while that act remains on the statute-book, can ever be free. Every person who has the specified degree of aboriginal ancestry may have his rights and his freedom taken from him at a stroke of the director’s pen. No Australian can rest idle while that kind of legislation remains on the statute-books of this country. Therefore, I believe that honorable members from Queensland, who have an influence with the government of that State, have a responsibility to take steps to ensure that that disability is removed. On this side of the House, of course, we have men who understand the principles that should prevail.
I am inclined to agree with both my predecessors in this debate that this is a major step. In any great undertaking the first step is probably the most difficult one; but this is only the first skirmish in a long battle to remove all the disabilities from which the aboriginal people of Australia suffer. These disabilities, or some of them, have been mentioned during the debate to-night. There are disabilities in connexion with housing, education and employment. We should also try to remove all the legal disabilities that still, unfortunately, exist, particularly in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It is an unfortunate fact that in only one State on the mainland of Australia, Victoria, is an aboriginal person an absolutely free person. This, of course, is not a happy thought for those Australians who show concern for Australian democracy. For most of us there is a big task ahead in converting the social attitudes of people and changing the legal systems which cause these disabilities.
It is a fact that an aboriginal in Australia who wishes to travel freely around the continent needs to take with him a staff which includes a lawyer, an anthropologist and a geographer, so that he may be absolutely sure of where he stands in different places. The moment he crosses the Murray River going north he loses the right to drink unless be has an exemption certificate. As soon as he crosses the McPherson Range he finds himself in deeper trouble. He may, at the stroke of the director’s pen, find himself exiled to a settlement for life. There are many aborigines, as the honorable member for Fawkner has pointed out, who are practically confined in settlements during a government’s pleasure, without trial. When the travelling aboriginal crosses to the Northern Territory he acquires different rights and suffers different disabilities. If he goes to Western Australia, in the area north, I think, of 20 degrees south latitude, he suffers certain disabilities connected with the right to travel, unless he obtains a clearance showing him to be free from leprosy.
These are the disabilities we have inflicted upon the people of what is probably the simplest living race on earth, and I believe our next task is to remove those disabilities. I agree that in matters of housing and education we have a simple and direct task ahead of us. The fundamental problem is probably one of the supply of adequate funds by this Parliament. Among the 100,000 aborigines of Australia there would not be many hundreds of families living in conditions comparable to those enjoyed by the average white Australian. Housing is probably the major task. Of about, I suppose, 250 families of aborigines in Victoria, I suggest that not more than ten or twelve would be enjoying reasonable housing conditions, but the expenditure of £1,000,000 in Victoria would probably correct the position. Similar conditions exist, in varying degrees, in other parts of Australia.
I believe that the situation presents a challenge to this Parliament. I do not propose at this late hour to take up too much time on the question. Anybody who cares to look through the records of this Parliament for the past five or six years will see that I have said all these things before. I and my colleagues propose to continue saying them until all the disabilities of the aborigines are removed.
There still remain, of course, disabilities that spring from the Australian Constitution itself. There is the disability inherent in section 51 of the Constitution, which gives this Parliament power to make laws for the people of any race in Australia other than the aboriginal race. No aboriginal person with any self-respect can possibly feel that he is a full Australian while that provision remains in the Constitution. I have asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on many occasions to initiate a referendum for the purpose of having that section altered. There would be no difficulty about it. Every Australian to whom I have spoken on this subject has said that he would agree to the removal of this provision, but it can be done only by referendum. I believe that such a referendum must be held.
There is also the disability arising from the restriction on the counting of aborigines for census and electoral purposes. The aborigines I know who are conscious of these matters are affronted at being discriminated against in this way. I believe that in this Parliament we must take action forthwith to remove this discrimination.
– The tragedy is that neither of those sections was intended to be an affront to the aborigines.
– That is right. As the honorable member for Fremantle says, neither of those sections was intended to bc an affront to the aborigines. They were written into the Constitution 60 years ago in the light of current thinking about the best way to protect the aboriginal people. They have remained there through the decades and have resulted in these disabilities. While those sections remain the State governments have power to pass laws taking away from the aborigines ordinary civil rights.
I express the hope that those honorable members who have acquired thousands more electors as a result of the legislation granting aborigines the right to vote will pay the same attention to them as they do to Australian constituents. Most of them have probably already begun to do so. There are some State electorates in which the aborigines will be in a majority. Those electorates would probably be in northern Queensland and the northern part of Western Australia. There may well come a day when an aboriginal in one of those electorates will sit in this or a State parliament representing his people. 1 am still hoping that some day the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) will appoint one or two aborigines to the Northern Territory Legislative Council to represent their people in that body.
The members of the Australian Labour Party have their opinions about these matters. The honorable member for Fremantle has outlined some of them. I hope that every member of this Parliament will take heed of the disabilities, legal, administrative and social, to which the aboriginal people are still heir, and will do everything within his personal and parliamentary power to remove those difficulties as soon as possible.
.- The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) mentioned the fact that a speaker on this side of the House had suggested that the honorable member had his head in the clouds. I think his head is still in the clouds, from the speech that he has made to-night. It was suggested that the measure before the House is a Labour measure that has been forced on this Government. One would think that this was Labour Party policy. I would remind honorable members that the two States that have the largest number of aborigines have been under Labour governments for the greater part of their history. What have those governments done for the aborigines? Yet we hear the suggestion that this is Labour Party policy. What utter nonsense! Just look at the position of aborigines in New South Wales. It is ridiculous to suggest that these reforms are part of Labour Party policy.
The honorable member also referred to an amendment proposed by the Labour Party when the Electoral Bill was debated last year, which he said was opposed by the Government. Let me remind the House that the amendment introduced by the Opposition at that time provided for the compulsory enrolment of aborigines. Would we have been wise to accept such a proposition? Of course, we would not.
Let me get on to the bill itself. I would like to compliment the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) on his splendid speech. I pay tribute to him for the tremendous amount of work he did as a member of the Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines. He was of great assistance in gathering all possible information on the history of the aborigines and our constitutional attitude towards them.
I support the very thoughtful remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson). I agree with his contention that the vote itself will not mean very much to the aborigines for the time being. In all the evidence taken by the committee it appeared that the desire for a vote was not the main consideration in the minds of the aborigines. Only a fraction of them really desired the vote, but 1 have no doubt that eventually they will come to value their franchise. I think most of the members of the committee would agree that the aborigines appear to be seeking a symbol of equality with the white man. The desire for equality with the white man is uppermost in their minds.
– In Western Australia what they said was that they wanted their freedom.
– I thank the honorable member for his reminder. As 1 say, the desire for equality was uppermost in their minds, and they look for symbols of that equality. Unfortunately the symbol is very often the right to drink at the local hotels. That seemed to be of great importance in their minds. It is unfortunate that alcohol has such a serious effect, but let us hope that this can be overcome in the future. It has been suggested that education is a very important factor, and so it is. We were impressed by the fact that each State had a different approach to its aboriginal problem. We saw some remarkable efforts by the States to endeavour to improve the status of the aborigines. A most interesting example was seen in Western Australia, where an attempt is being made to educate the aboriginal child to be able to accept the same standards as are accepted by white people. That was done by bringing aboriginal children from neighbouring districts to a central school where they were boarded and educated and then went back, as is done by children attending our own boarding schools, to their own people. In that way they formed the habit of living of white people. After all, probably one of the greatest problems which differentiates the white from the black in Australia is not a colour bar. We saw very little evidence of a colour bar. But I would say it is the hygiene bar. That is the problem. Wherever we went, particularly in the Northern Territory, we saw measures being adopted to overcome this problem. That is one of the important factors there.
As I have said, to have the right to vote is not a very great desire of the aboriginal people; but in a minority of cases it is a tremendous desire. We saw evidence of individuals who have managed to take themselves from their own people and accept our standards to a very marked degree. They have a great road to travel before they achieve the standards of equality which we feel are most desirable. First of all, their environment is most difficult. In their environment in the remote parts of Australia, where their tribal instincts are strong and their tribal laws have a great hold on them, when they come to the towns unfortunately they do not associate with the best of the whites. There again they are under the disadvantage that white people judge the standards of the aborigines against those of the best and not the worst of the whites. That is a most unfair comparison, but I think it is prevalent throughout Australia. It will require great tolerance and great understanding on the part of all Australians to smooth the way of these people to become a very valuable adjunct to our own society. However, the aborigines as a whole cannot be isolated in the future. With the development of Australia, the increase in our population and the use of increasing areas of our country the aboriginal cannot continue in his isolation. Therefore this bill is laying the path for the complete and total integration of our aboriginal people. After all they have tremendous and delightful qualities which will be very valuable, and they will be able to give a contribution to our society. I have great pleasure in supporting this bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Luchetti) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- First, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to you for failing to observe the Standing Orders when, in all sincerity, I endeavoured to ask a question this morning about a matter which I consider to be of national importance. I feel, Sir, that the long-service leave legislation introduced in June last year will result in continued disturbance and turbulence on the Australian waterfront. I feel particularly on this matter because we are entering an era when our trade must bc developed to the greatest possible degree and the despatch of goods to and from this country must be handled in the most expeditious manner. I feel that the legislation of June, 1961, through its penal provisions and its restrictions in relation to long service leave, will cause considerable disturbance on our waterfront. The object of the penal clauses, which must be deplored by all sections of our community, was to tame this industry, which has been called a turbulent industry.
For many years a statutory authority, known as the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, has had the power to suspend waterside workers, to cancel their registration and to withhold the payment of attendance money. But the Waterside Workers’ Federation has in many ways forestalled the implementation of the powers vested in that authority under section 36 of the principal act. Wherever a group of men walked off a job, a complete port stoppage and the holding up of all work could result. Whenever, after deliberation by the executive of the federation, it was decided to demonstrate the feeling of the men and hold a four-hour or a 24-hour stoppage, the Stevedoring Industry Authority was restrained from implementing section 36 of the act by the fact that if all the labour in the port walked off and left the ships idle and the men were suspended for two days the port would be idle for three days.
The introduction of the June, 1961, legislation has delivered into the hands of the representatives of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, who are honest men of high integrity, the power to fine waterside workers for their actions. No matter how those representatives feel or how sincere they are, they will be affected by the power vested in them and the feeling of the will of the Government in instituting this legislation to crush the right to take direct action. It has been accepted in this chamber many times that this industry is a turbulent one. A ship is not like a factory where conciliation can be called for and two months later a judge can observe the working conditions. A ship sails within two or three days of a dispute.
On many occasions charges levelled against waterside workers are not sufficiently proven. The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1961, showed that 236,988 men were involved in disputes and concerted action in respect of which the authority did not take any action. Nineteen of those men were discharged for being under the influence of liquor, but no action was taken because insufficient evidence was given by the employers. A total of 5,064 men were discharged by the employers, charged with interfering with stevedoring operations and warned. Twentynine of those men were charged with being under the influence of liquor, and after hearing the cases the authority’s officer only warned the men. Two men were charged with pillage and warned. The authority does not call a waterside worker before it unless a police court finds him guilty. In the year ended 30th June, 1961, only 10,122 men were actually suspended by the authority. Thirty-six of them were suspended for pillaging cargo; 220 of them were charged by the employer with being under the influence of liquor; and 35 of them abused or assaulted people on the waterfront.
The authority has the power to say to a man, who may be a tradesman after his years on the waterfront, “You may no longer be a waterside worker”. No fewer than 64 men were expelled, never again to work as waterside workers. That does not happen to a meat-worker, a carpenter or a bricklayer; but it happens in this industry. Those figures must reveal that on many occasions the employers are wrong and on many occasions insufficient evidence is produced.
I want to direct your attention to a specific case, Mr. Speaker, and I point to the error here. Under this new legislation, the authority may feel that every time men take concerted action they must be suspended. On 4th April, a waterside worker in Brisbane, named Mealin, an ex-prisoner of war who came on to the Brisbane waterfront in 1948 and is known personally to me, was working at the abattoirs wharf unloading trays of cartoned meat. A tray is seven-feet square and a case of cartoned meat weighs 56 lb. When the first carton came out of the ship the foreman in charge said, “ Place it this way “. That is just like telling a carpenter to saw wood with the teeth edge of a saw. The waterside worker said, “ Very well “. When the second case came down the chute, he put it down and the foreman said, “ You are stacking it the wrong way”. The waterside worker muttered to himself and said, “ Get off my back “. So the foreman sacked him and said to him, “ You abused me “.
The men working on the ship negotiated. Immediately after the waterside worker was sacked, he said to the foreman: “ I did not abuse you. I may have said, ‘Don’t be b—– silly ‘ ; but I am prepared to apologize. I am sorry “. After two hours’ negotiation between the union representatives and the employers, the employers would not re-instate the man. He was sacked and the remainder of the men walked off in sympathy. The chairman of the authority is a man of many years’ experience and impeccable honesty and sincerity -
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I seldom intrude into an adjournment debate. I do so to-night because I want to direct the attention of this House and, through it, of the people to a matter which, in the present political situation, is of very peculiar and particular importance. In the years that I have been in this place I have come to the conclusion that on a number of matters there is not a great deal of difference of opinion and attitude among honorable members irrespective of the part of the chamber where they sit, and that on a great variety of other matters the differences between members are differences of detail. The real line of division has been and is the socialist objective of the Australian Labour Party.
During the last general election campaign the leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party (Mr. Calwell), for the first time in the political history of this country, gave an assurance that if his party was returned to power and he became Prime Minister, during the life of this Parliament no nationalization plan would be proceeded with. As a keen and, I might say, interested student, on this occasion I sought to find from what quarter that decision had emanated. I found myself unable to find in the machinery of the Labour Party where authority for that decision had been given. This is a political situation which is not of great importance to us, but is of immense importance to the people who send us to this Parliament.
The Opposition is divided from the Government by the narrowest possible majority. The legitimate intention of the Opposition is to defeat the Government on the first possible occasion. Indeed, it is known that the Opposition believes that it may well be possible to defeat the Government during the next Budget session. I come now to the crux of this matter. The situation is that the present Opposition is the real alternative government. Only a few votes separate the Opposition and the Government; but the real line of division is the socialist objective of the Labour Party which was disowned by the leader of that party during the last general election campaign.
The question that I put to member., of this House, who are well informed, and to the people who are not as well informed, is this: I do not doubt the honesty and sincerity of purpose of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), but whence came the authority to depart from the objective ot the A.L.P.? I ask that question for this reason: Unless the Leader of the Opposition has authoritative backing, every member of this House knows that whatever pledge he may have given can be defeated by a majority of members of his party meeting in caucus. Further, his pled can be defeated or amended by direction of the federal executive of the A.L.P.
This is the reason why I have intervened in this debate to-night. I understand that to-morrow the members of the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party will go to Victoria to confer with the Victorian executive of the party on matters of difference between them. I would suggest that this may well be one of the differences, because the Victorian executive of the Australian Labour Party is notoriously left wing in character. That is one of the facts of life. That is known to be the situation. On the other hand, the decision announced by the Leader of the Opposition to remove the nationalization projects from the alternative government’s policy must run directly contrary to the intention of the Victorian Labour Party executive.
– Is he not a Victorian?
– Of course he is a Victorian, which makes the position all the more difficult for him. This is the crux of the political position to-day. If the Labour Party, as the alternative government, replaces this Government can that party keep the promise of its leader not to introduce nationalization? When the federal executive meets the State executive to-morrow the people of Australia and we in this House may well expect to have this question settled. We may well expect that if the Leader of the Opposition has the backing of his party - the federal executive and the State executive - from that meeting will emerge a clear statement that his policy on his matter has been endorsed by the official controlling body of the party. If, on the other hand, no statement is made, then I ask this House and the people of Australia: However sincere, however honest the Leader of the Opposition is, can he possibly observe that pledge for three years in a parliament in which the party that he leads would have a narrow majority and also, when he would be leading a party which, to put it mildly, has many divisions in its ranks?
I direct the attention of the House to this matter in one of my very infrequent intrusions into the adjournment debate, because I believe it is one of the vital and fundamental questions in Australia to-day and it should be answered in the interests of the people of this country after the meeting of the Federal and State executives of the Australian Labour Party to-morrow.
.- In spite of the fearsome picture which the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) has given to the House, the people of Australia nearly elected the Australian Labour Party as the Government on 9th December. I have not the time to waste to-night on this story which the honorable member has just brought forward, except to say that we did not turn aside from any part of our policy during the last general election. We put our policy straightforwardly and honestly to the people, and they assessed it accordingly.
I want to speak on another matter tonight. I think it was in early February that I raised for the first time the question whether Tasmania was worthy of having a member on the Australian Wheat Board. At the present time there are on the Australian Wheat Board two wheat-growers’ representatives from each State who, with the chairman and some other gentlemen, make a total of fourteen members administering one of the finest stabilization acts we have ever had on the statute-book. Tasmania is not represented on that board. Tasmania, of course, produces soft wheat which is used mainly for biscuit making. Over the years, Tasmania’s wheat production has been fairly low, but in recent years it has steadily increased. This is borne out by statistics published at page 895 of the “ Year Book “ for 1961, which disclose that in 1955-56 there were 78 farms growing more than 20 acres of wheat in Tasmania, and that by 1959-60 that number had jumped to 141. They disclose also that in 1955-56 Tasmania produced 129,000 bushels of wheat and that by 1959-60 that production had increased to 182,000 bushels, or 4,875 tons. One farm, the “ Panshanger “ estate, harvested 900 acres of wheat this season. lt is probable that this season our wheat harvest will total 5,000 tons, which will be the best harvest for 60 years. This year, for the first time in Tasmania, the wheat was handled by the bulk handling method, the wheat being taken to the two silos at Launceston and Devonport, each of which has a capacity of 300,000 bushels. The new scheme worked very well indeed, considering that it was the first time wheat was ever handled in that way there.
The wheat was handled by the Grain Elevators Board, which was established originally in 1950, but was expanded to its present form in December, 1961 - only a few months ago. This important board was the agent for the Australian Wheat Board in Tasmania this season and it arranged the bulk handling scheme on behalf of the Australian Wheat Board. The Grain Elevators Board consists of three members, one of whom is the manager and chairman. The other two are appointed by the Governor, and one of them must be a person who is actively engaged in agriculture. The powers of the board are set out in section 7c of the Grain Reserve Act, sub-section 2 (g) of which provides that the board may sell grain as agent for the Australian Wheat Board. That act also provides that the board is entitled to be appointed as a licensed receiver of wheat in bulk for the purposes of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act 1958. Honorable members on the Government side are interjecting. I listened to them in silence, and I would like to have the same courtesy.
– Speak up!
– I do not intend to shout in this chamber. If the honorable member cannot hear me now he will not hear me at all. The Grain Reserve Act of Tasmania also provides that the board shall receive and handle all wheat in bulk offered to it as a licensed receiver at any of its bulk handling facilities that are in use in such manner as the Australian Wheat Board may, either generally or in a particular case, direct, and in accordance with the conditions of its licence. If our production increases still further Tasmania could be exporting wheat for the first time in its history next season, although that wheat would not be suitable for bread making; it would be soft wheat which is more suitable for biscuit making. To date, we have imported all our bread making wheat from the mainland, and under the provisions of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act we enjoy certain concessions in connexion with freight charges.
If we should export wheat next year, the Australian Wheat Board will have to take over the main job which is being carried through at the moment by the Grain Elevators Board. In that case, the Australian Wheat Board will become responsible for silo capacity and the other problems associated with handling the wheat. We believe that Tasmania now has every justification for seeking representation on the Australian Wheat Board. Already we have a properly constituted State board which is one of the first requirements necessary to qualify for representation on the Australian Wheat Board. Let me now quote sub-section (3.) of section 7. of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act of 1958, which reads -
A member representing wheat-growers in a State shall be appointed in the following manner: -
if there is a State Board in the State - he shall be appointed by the Minister from amongst the members of the Stale Board, on the nomination of the State Board.
We have qualified in that respect and it is important that this clause should now be implemented in the interests of Tasmanian wheat-growers. Just recently two of our wheat-growers made a trip to Melbourne at their own expense to interview the Australian Wheat Board on a matter of policy on bulk handling this season. If Tasmania had a member on the Australian Wheat Board the incurring of such travelling expenses would not be necessary. I urge the Minister to try to make a decision on this matter during this year if possible. The growers in my State are anxious and concerned. Their concern is spearheaded by the Cereal Committee of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, which is our main farmers’ organization. More than 80 per cent. of Tasmanian farmers are members of the federation.
In conclusion I appeal again to the Minister to consider the request I am making on behalf of Tasmanian wheat-growers. I feel that they have now fulfilled the qualifications necessary to have one wheat-grower member on the Australian Wheat Board to look after their interests.
.- I had intended to deal with the subject I have in mind at question time to-day, but as I could not get the call then I decided to deal with the matter to-night. I wish to use the question that I had framed this morning as the basis of what I intend to say. The question was -
Is the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, Senator W. H. Spooner, who is also commissioner for the Commonwealth on the River Murray Commission, aware of a report of a plan to tap the Murray River to provide an addition to the water supply of metropolitan Melbourne? As all Murray River water is fully committed will he ask the Minister for National Development to resist ardently such a plan? As an alternative, will he consider the suggestion of the president of the Murray River Development League, Councillor E. V. Whyte, that some of the people of over-populated Melbourne should come to the Murray Valley?
Mr. Speaker, this reported plan is very serious to the whole of the Murray River area. The president of the Murray Valley Development League is to be complimented upon revealing just a week ago as reported in the “ Sunraysia Daily “ that such a plan existed. I want to read one or two of the things he said. The newspaper report of his statement reads -
A “ call to arms “ to the entire Murray Valley was sounded in Mildura yesterday to resist a reported plan to tap the Murray River as an addition to Melbourne’s metropolitan water supply.
President of the Murray Valley Development League (Cr. E. V. Whyte), who revealed the plan, labelled it “ stealing by Melbourne “ and called for full support from the Murray Valley to fight it.
Honorable members opposite are interjecting. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) appealed for courtesy when he was speaking. I ask his colleagues to extend some courtesy to me. The matter I am raising is of importance to the great productive area of the Murray valley. I am addressing my remarks to the Minister for National Development who is also the president of the River Murray Commission. The subject is most important and the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) who comes from Adelaide, which is dependent on the water of the Murray, should be especially interested. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, who is interjecting all the time, has no interest in this matter at all, but that is the sort of behaviour we experience in this place when we speak about something that is worth while. I am fighting for water for an important country area but honorable members who come from the cities keep on interjecting. I think they should give me a reasonable hearing. The newspaper report continued -
Cr. Whyte was speaking at the annual meeting of Region 4 of the Murray Valley Development League, of which he is chairman.
He said the proposal for supplementing Melbourne’s water supply also involved possible tapping from the Thompson River. 1 will be most delighted to co-operate with my colleague the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) in whose electorate the Thompson River runs. The difference between the two cases is that the Thompson River is under State control whereas the Murray River is under the control of the River Murray Commission. Therefore my appeal is legitimate when I make it to the president of the River Murray Commission, Senator Spooner. The newspaper report continues -
Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works had seriously suggested tapping either the Murray watershed, the Thompson watershed or both.
Such a plan must be resisted “at all costs and by all means “, Cr. Whyte said.
There was no body better organized or more capable of fighting the attempt than the league.
The league executive was already taking up the cudgels, and was asking for full support from league members and people of the Murray Valley in the fight.
The Murray Valley Development League has a slogan, “ A million people in the Murray Valley”. Councillor Whyte said that he wanted the water of the Murray for populating the Murray valley with 1,000,000 people. I think he was very conservative because the Murray valley area, if properly developed, could support a population of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 people. This is very important to the future of Australia. The Murray is Australia’s greatest waterway.
If the report is correct - I do not know whether it is or not - that the proposal is to take water from the Murray to the metropolitan area of Melbourne, this is something that must be fought in this Parliament. I am fully aware of the very dry conditions at present obtaining in Melbourne, and of the low level of reservoirs that supply metropolitan Melbourne, but I am also fully aware that the Murray River is very low and that soldier settlements of Sunraysia, Robinvale, Tresco, Nyah, and other places on each side of the river, require this water urgently to keep their vines growing and to keep in production that fertile area that has become famous all over Australia. - Mr. James. - Talk about something important.
– We get the same old cries from the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), the new member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), and now we have the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) interjecting. We give Opposition members a reasonable hearing although they frequently speak on party political matters. But this is not a political matter. I realize that it has no interest whatever for members who represent metropolitan areas.
– I rise to a point of order. I am very interested in the subject of the water supplies in Australia.
– No point of order is involved. The honorable member for Watson will resume his seat.
– If these honorable members were interested they would give a member who is advocating a subject such as I am advocating to-night a reasonable hearing. Let me ignore the city members altogether and appeal to those honorable members who represent country areas to stand behind me in fighting against a plan which, if put into operation, would divert water that is urgently needed for primary production. I see that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is smiling. He supports decentralization, better water supplies and such essentials. Whether he is smiling because I am presenta legitimate case, I do not know.
It is not my intention to take up the time of the House to the full extent to which I am entitled. I have put the case sufficiently. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development to convey to his colleague, Senator Spooner, the remarks that I have made and request him to use his best endeavours to defeat this plan, if such a plan is likely to be put into operation.
– I call the honorable member for Yarra.
– Have I a chance of being heard to-night?
– Order! The honorable member for Hunter will resume his seat.
– I want to talk some common sense.
– Order! If the honorable member fails to resume his seat, I shall name him. I ask the House to come to order. The honorable member for Yarra has the call, and I ask honorable members to obey the Standing Orders.
.- I desire to raise a matter that concerns the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). I shall not take a moment longer than is necessary to do this, in view of the severely rationed time available to members on this occasion. I am raising a matter that involves the serious exploitation of many dozens of employees of a contractor employed by the Commonwealth Government to clean seven large blocks of offices in the city of Melbourne. This contractor is anti-union. He intimidates members of his staff who desire to join trade unions, he pays under-award wages, he refuses to pay for holidays, and he refuses to pay penalty rates. He shortpays his employees. The contractor is a man called Medcalf, who trades under the name of the Guarantee Cleaning Service. He has contracts to clean seven of the largest Commonwealth buildings in the city of Melbourne.
– Mr. Speaker, will you ask the honorable member to speak up?
– Order! If the honorable member for Moore and his colleagues will remain silent, they will be able to hear what is said.
– Obviously there is a deliberate attempt by honorable members on the other side of the House to interfere with the chances of honorable members on this side to raise matters on the motion for the adjournment. We are restricted enough already. I am sure that the honorable member for Moore can hear me quite well. If he cannot, he must be failing in health as much as he appears to be from here. I ask: Does the Minister for the Interior know of these practices? If so, does he approve of them? They involve the exploitation, as I have said, of many dozens of people. To be precise about this, I want to read to the House extracts from a letter written by two persons to the Miscellaneous Workers Union in Melbourne. These two people said -
We wish to lodge a complaint against our former employer, Guarantee Cleaning Service, for underpayment of wages for the six-month period that we were in his employ. Our weekly hours were as follows.
Then there is a list of hours worked, including broken shifts, extending to fourteen hours a day. It appears that in Commonwealth offices a number of people are employed on cleaning work for up to twelve or fourteen hours a day, in broken shifts. These two persons went on to say -
We did not receive any holiday pay on leaving the firm and throughout the whole of the period we received no penalty for working Public Holidays.
We never received a proper idea of our wages for we received an envelope each week for the sum of £32 gross which was supposed to be payment for our joint effort. Also Guarantee have not mentioned our first month’s service on the group certificate issued, as it was claimed that this period was a training or probation period. We did not receive wages during this time.
They worked for a month in order to qualify for pay thereafter. These two people are new Australians, as is the proprietor of this company. The letter continued -
We were employed as cleaners on contracts in various Commonwealth Government Departments from 15th August to28th March, 1962. Would you be so good as to make a claim on our former employer on our behalf.
The Miscellaneous Workers Union in Victoria has taken action on this matter and has written this letter to me: -
Further to our telephone conversation of yesterday, the causes of complaint are: -
That Award penalties are ignored in calculation of weekly rate.
That no penalty is paid on Public Holidays, i.e., Xmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day, Labour Day, Anzac Day, etc.
That windows were cleaned for a price, i.e., sub-contract.
That 2 people received one pay envelope in return for their individual efforts.
That for the hours shown in copy of attached letter, item (3) were calculated at £32 gross (for 2 people) and that this should be £45 under the State Determination.
That no annual holidays are paid.
This service is operated by a Hungarian called Medcalf who employs Hungarians almost exclusively. He ignores the Union. Other Contractors have repeatedly told us that they have lost contracts to him, because he undercuts by hitherto unheard of margins. The above complaints show how he was able to do this. He has the contracts for: -
Geological Museum, Government Laboratories, Factory Inspectors’ Department.
Mr. Speaker, that is the gist of the complaint. I want to know whether the Minister for the Interior will investigate this matter fully. If the complaints are well-founded, will he take action to put an end to these practices or, alternatively, ensure that the contracts of the Guarantee Cleaning Service with the Commonwealth Government will be terminated?
– I call the Treasurer.
– As it is obvious that I am not going to be given an opportunity to speak,I now move -
That the honorable member for Grayndler be now heard.
– Order! I have called the Treasurer.
– I rise to order. Mr. Speaker, must you not accept the motion that I have proposed, irrespective of who is on his feet? The Government is gagging debate, and I have moved that I be now heard.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Mr Speaker, it has been obvious to all honorable members that in recent weeks some honorable members opposite have set out to abuse the processes of the Standing Orders and to disrupt the orderly conduct of the business of the House. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has been the most conspicuous example of what I am saying. Matters even reached the stage to-day where you, Sir, found it necessary to rebuke the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell)–
Motion (by Mr. Galvin) negatived -
That the right honorable member for Higgins be not further heard.
– I will not further waste my very limited time in pursuing the honorable member for Grayndler. His conduct is well-known to every honorable member in this place.
I rise to-night because I would hope that the Opposition, and in particular the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who is in the chamber, will not ignore the very serious statement that has been made by the honorable member for Deakin (Mr Davis). The honorable member for Deakin asked - this was a matter that I took occasion to develop during the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply earlier in the session - where honorable gentlemen opposite and the Australian Labour Party stand in relation to the pledge given by the Leader of the Labour Party that effect would not be given to the party’s pledged programme. As I understood my colleague, the honorable member for Deakin, he was putting to the House that to-morrow the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party will meet in Victoria with the executive of the Victorian branch of the party. Under ordinary circumstances it would be of interest to pursue that topic because it is notorious that for some time the leading figures in the Australian Labour Party have been seeking to discipline the Victorian executive which, on such issues as unity tickets, foreign policy and the pursuit of the socialist objective, has been out of line with some of the leading figures of the Labour movement. But the public may draw its own conclusions from the fact that the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party to-morrow will seek in some way to discipline or bring into line the Victorian executive.
Again, that to me is not the more important matter to which the attention of this House should be directed to-night. Mr. Speaker, the issue raised by the honorable member for Deakin is this: The Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues have made no secret of the fact that they are looking to the forthcoming Budget session as an opportunity to displace, if they can, this Government. As he said, that is legitimate political action on their part but the point-
– You have nerves!
– No; 1 assure the honorable gentleman that my nerves are a good deal steadier on this matter than his are, because I happen to know where the Liberal Party and the Liberal Government are going. The honorable member is a man, I hope, of some sincerity and probity. He has given his sworn pledge to the socialist objective. Does he know where he is going in view of the public undertaking given by his leader?
The issue is a simple one, but nobody should delude himself that it is not vitally important to Australia. If the Australian Labour Party is seeking office in this country - as it is fully entitled to do - then it has an obligation to the people to say whether it stands by its printed platform. It has an obligation to say whether that is the programme it proposes to carry out if given the authority of office, or whether it has jettisoned its sworn pledge and its platform and is abiding by the pledge given by the Leader of the Opposition. For my part - and 1 think this applies to all honorable members on this side of the House who have heard and witnessed the performance of the Leader of the Opposition in the last couple of weeks - I would not be prepared to take any pledge which he gives on any matter of public concern in this place, the more so as in this instance, his pledge is to dishonour the pledge already given that he will give effect to the Labour platform.
It is one thing for the Leader of the Opposition, without any authority from the federal executive of the Labour Party or the federal conference of the party - and they are the policy-making bodies of the A.L.P. - to say publicly, “ I give a pledge on behalf of my party that we shall not, if we assume office, give effect to our sworn socialization programme.”
Why this matter is of importance and is being raised at this time is this: For all we on this side of the House know, the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party may not have a meeting again before the Budget session. There may be no other opportunity for the federal executive, other than its meeting at this time in Victoria, to make some public declaration. That is all we ask it to do. We ask it to make a public declaration whether or not it stands behind the pledge given by the Leader of the Opposition to the Australian people. That, I suggest, is a simple and direct proposition. It is all very well for honorable gentlemen opposite to try to howl me down on this matter. I will not be howled down, because this matter is of vital importance to the Australian people. The Leader of the Opposition has publicly pledged himself against giving effect to the Labour programme. Does the federal executive, in the absence of a meeting of the federal conference of the Labour Party, stand by that undertaking? I will rest quiet if the federal executive is prepared to come out publicly and say, “ Yes, on this matter the Leader of the Opposition spoke for the federal Labour Party and for the federal conference “. But until the executive does this-
– You are worried.
– Strangely enough, although honorable gentlemen opposite interject-
– Order! All honorable members know that interjections are disorderly. I ask honorable members to obey the Standing Orders and to behave themselves.
– An honorable member opposite said, by way of interjection, that I am worried. I confess - and I say it in all sincerity - that I am worried about the prospect of a government in office in Australia at this time determined to give effect to the socialist programme of the Australian Labour Party. I have been a long time in this place fighting these very policies. When the leader of the Labour Party states publicly to the Australian people, “ I pledge myself that we shall not give effect to our programme “, I suggest that is a major political development in Australian history. The people of Australia are entitled to know whether the leader of the Labour Party, in giving that public pledge, spoke with the authority of his federal executive and with the authority of the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party. I say to honorable gentlemen opposite: Do not brush this aside because the people of Australia are entitled to know where they stand.
– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- It is certainly a change for the Treasurer (Mr, Harold Holt) to ask honorable members on this side of the House to contribute to an adjournment debate instead of allowing some of his bell-wethers to deny them an opportunity to do so. Who would have dreamed that the urbane member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) would be the bellwether in this debate? The Treasurer, a shaggier specimen of the species, chides us with not rising to speak to the matter raised by the honorable member for Deakin. Quite frankly, I do not believe the honorable member for Deakin raised any more interest on this subject than he does on the few other matters he raises in this House.
When the Treasurer, about half an hour ago, leapt from the Postmaster-General’s seat in the chamber, I thought that he proposed to answer some of the questions that had been put to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) in this House and outside it. Questions of an embarrassing character which are put to the Postmaster-General are answered or avoided by the Treasurer. When one puts questions to the PostmasterGeneral outside the House, he does not answer them there or here.
I thought on this occasion, when the Treasurer leapt from the PostmasterGeneral’s seat, that at last he was coming to the table to answer the questions. Is Sir Philip McBride, Sir Giles Chippindall or Sir Arthur Warner, or are all these Liberal knights, to get the television licences in the cities as well as the honours that have been heaped upon them? The right honorable gentleman does not say so on this occasion.
This is not the first time he has ousted the Postmaster-General, in a debate on the motion for the adjournment, on the subject of television licences. He did so twice when the last number of licences was issued, not only without the recommendation of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board but despite the recommendations of the board. And, of course, more recently he came in on another tackthe unexplained dropping of the news item from the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news session at 9 o’clock last Sunday week. Ordinarily, the A.B.C. runs its news items two or three times. One of the interesting games played by the listening public now on Sunday nights is guessing which of the A.B.C. news items on the 7 o’clock session will last until the 9 o’clock or 11 o’clock session.
– What about a little honesty?
– I did not think the Treasurer was ever interested in honesty. I was about to say that the right honorable gentleman falls into this error, but I do not really believe he falls into it; he seeks to promote it. He seeks to limit the idea of Labour’s socialization objective to nationalization. Nationalization is only one aspect - and by no means the most important aspect at the present time - of Labour’s socialization objective. The Leader of the Opposition, like every leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party or a State Labour Party, delivers a policy speech indicating what items of party policy will be put to the people or to the Parliament in the ensuing parliamentary term if the Labour Party is elected. I am glad to say there was a host of wholesome socialist projects in our leader’s speech last November, and the vast majority of the Australian people endorsed them.
Let me remind the right honorable gentleman of some of them. We proposed to establish an overseas shipping line in addition to the existing coastal shipping line. We are one of the largest trading nations in the world, but we are the only one of any significance which has no ships engaged in foreign trade. In this trade we are wholly in foreign hands not only in the transport, but also in credit, warehousing and the provision of merchandising facilities. No other trading country in the world allows foreigners to have the complete disposal of its trade. Because, for the last twelve years, we have had such a doctrinaire and unpatriotic government as this our trade has been constantly declining. We cannot afford to leave our trade in the hands of British and European traders, middle-men, shippers and creditors. These facilities must increasingly be entrusted to Australians and, where necessary, to the Australian government, for the simple reason that private enterprise will not provide them.
In addition we proposed to set up a Commonwealth insurance commission. We believe that the exploitation of our foreign trade and of so much of our commerce and our domestic life by insurance companies should be curbed by some wholesome competition. Insurance is a service which should be rendered at cost. We should not be remitting overseas the dividends of fire, accident and marine insurance companies. Can any one justify the fact that premiums amount to 50 per cent, more than the payments of these companies? We put both these proposals to the people - public competition in respect of insurance and public development in respect of shipping.
Let me now turn to some of our natural resources. Too much of our post-war development has been in foreign hands. The whole of our post-war industries of oil refining, motor manufacturing, chemicals and the like are controlled from outside this country. This Government, when it is faced with the alternative between foreign development and Australian Government development always chooses foreign development. If it is given a choice between foreign development and no development it chooses no development. Western Australia and Queensland have been found to contain vast resources of oil, steel and bauxite, but the development of these resources is being left entirely to foreign companies and in many respects this development is proceeding at too leisurely a pace, or not at all.
We have the human skills and the material resources to establish steelworks in Queensland and additional steelworks in Western Australia. We have the human skills and the material resources to establish additional aluminium plants in Australia. We have, in the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the human skills to search for oil, to take it from the earth and to refine it in this country. If we are to pay our way internationally, if we are to develop our country and, in particular, the hitherto undeveloped and sparsely settled areas, we shall do it only by government enterprise and initiative, as we proposed at the last election.
These socialist policies were put to the Australian people last November and were overwhelmingly endorsed by the Australian people last December. Clearly the right honorable gentleman is becoming jittery. I welcome the signs of the birds coming home to roost when he speaks on the motion for the adjournment of the House. In September and October last year, after putting up his stooges, he participated in every possible adjournment debate, and every time he spoke he mentioned how the Government’s electoral prospects were improving and how the majorities of Government supporters would soar. His speeches had quite the reverse effect. I hope that before the Budget session he takes many other opportunities to speak in the adjournment - debate and I hope, but do not expect, that he will give us the opportunity to make similar devastating replies.
.- I imagine that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and ali members of the Opposition will have, at a more seasonable hour, many opportunities to explain when a socialist is not a socialist. It is true that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition sought to distract attention from the issue raised by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) by regurgitating a policy speech. I do not think that he succeeded in doing so. Furthermore, I thought he was rather weak in his vicious attack. However, I did not rise to walk upon these turbulent waters. I rose to speak about something serious.
For some weeks I have been in correspondence with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) on what I believe to be a matter of some interest to honorable members on both sides of the House. I want to refer to this matter very briefly. I have asked the Minister whether it might not be possible to publish in his monthly statistics, or at least periodically, some better particulars in relation to unemployment. In particular I raised with him the question whether it might not be possible to show the length of time that people have been out of employment so that one might know how many of them represent hard core unemployed, including no doubt some people whom one might call no-hopers, and how many people have been out of employment for a short time simply by reason of changing their jobs.
Secondly, I suggested that the ages of the unemployed should be given so that it might be possible to know whether a large number of them are school leavers or perhaps middle-aged people who are unable to obtain jobs.
Thirdly, I suggested that a division of unemployed into occupational categories might be somewhat more precise than the present arrangement. At present about 80 per cent, are shown simply as semi-skilled and . unskilled. There is no division into industries. I suggested also that information regarding the number of dependants of unemployed people might be given, and perhaps that some indication might be given as to the pattern of seasonal unemployment, the dimensions of this unemployment and the seasons and areas in which it occurs. This, of course, would not be precise but it is always necessary, when looking at unemployment figures, to take into account the seasonal pattern.
These matters have been raised by people outside the Parliament and by honorable members on both sides of the House. It is quite obvious that in dealing with unemployment it is necessary to know something of the anatomy of unemployment. Quite recently in the United States of America, for example, the President introduced a Manpower Retraining Bill. Obviously for purposes such as that - I could illustrate others if it were not so late at night - it is necessary to know the anatomy of unemployment. To give simply a global figure of unemployment is to cast into some minds the idea that all those who are unemployed are able and willing to work and are involuntarily unemployed. This, of course, is not the case. Some further particulars such as I have suggested might serve to dispel this illusion.
That is all I wish to say. I raise the matter at this hour, because this is the last opportunity that I shall have for some weeks, and because I believe that this matter is important. I must confess that having listened to the debate on the motion for the adjournment I feel that I need make no apology for raising the matter at this hour, because it merits at least the time that I have devoted to it. It also merits at least as much attention as some of the other matters that have been raised.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put -
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.56 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
i asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade has provided the following answers in which the figures quoted are for the financial year 1960-1961: -
(a) £A32,000. (b) Permanent officers, £A409,000; other officers, £A203,000. (c) £A77,000. (d) £A 100,000. (c) £A45,000.
n asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 3. Like a number of other countries Japan has been imposing import restrictions for balanceofpayments reasons for many years.
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Education in Papua and New Guinea.
s asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Second Division of the territorial Public Service, whether they have the necessary basic educational qualifications or not?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he consider the erection of garages in the premises of post office residences, particularly in country areas, to house private vehicles?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The question of providing garages in Commonwealthowned residences generally was reviewed about four years ago and the policy established that garages could be supplied in the following circumstances: -
the tenant requests provision of a garage on the understanding that he will pay an economic rental for it as assessed by the Department of the Interior (except where rental is assessed at 10 per cent. of salary under section 89 of the Public Service Act);
the Commonwealth residence is located one mile or more from the nearest town or township;
no convenient regular Commonwealth transport or public transport is available within half a mile of the residence;
garages are pre-fabricated of suitable type except where this would result in higher costs than conventional construction; and
garages do not exceed 18 feet by 10 feet in size.
a asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice - 1, Did he state on 27th March that, pursuant to departmental instructions in recent years, all applications for initial telephone services of more than one exchange line or for additional lines on existing services must be approved by the Superintendent, Commercial Branch? 2, How many of these installations have been made in Victoria subsequent to these instructions, but without the superintendent’s approval?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
No such installations have been discovered since the issue in October, 1956, of the departmental instructions specifying that applications for more than one exchange line or for additional lines on existing services must be specially scrutinized and not accepted unless approved by the Superintendent, Commercial Branch. In addition, the instructions also specify that officers engaged on installation work must report cases where -
Approval of applications is withheld in cases where applicants cannot satisfy the department that the telephones are required for the conduct of a legitimate business activity.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Yes. On 22nd January, 1962, the Australian Wheat Board was informed -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Representations have been received from primary-producer organizations, but they have been concerned essentially with the quarantine aspects of imported hides. 3 and 4. A proclamation was recently issued restricting the countries from which cattle hides could be imported into Australia. Cattle hides can now be imported only from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Papua and New Guinea, and certain Pacific Islands which are free from foot and mouth disease. Also, no cattle hides may now be landed unless they arc accompanied by a certificate from a government veterinary surgeon in the country of export certifying that the hides were derived from cattle slaughtered for human consumption in that country.
y asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Commonwealth Economic Committee states that, owing to its close resemblance to butter, margarine in many countries is subject to regulations governing its production, import, sales, packaging and colouring. The committee lists the restrictions applying in the major countries as follows: -
In Canada, where manufacture, import and sale had been forbidden by the Dairy Industry Act of 1935, the decision of the Supreme Court in December, 1948, legalized the production and sale of margarine, although its importation was still prohibited. The manufacture and sale of margarine in Quebec and Prince Edward Island was banned by Provincial Legislation.
In South Africa, the legal maximum of margarine (solely white) which may be pro- duced annually is fixed at 18,000,000 lb.
In Australia, quotas are established for the production of table margarine in each Stale; no restrictions have been imposed on the production of cooking margarine.
In the United States of America, Federal taxes and restrictions were abolished in mid- 1950, but two States still prohibit the sale of coloured margarine.
y asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
3 and 4. Relating retail prices of butter to the purchasing power of consumers, the nominal weekly wage now buys more pounds of butter than at any time since 1951. In only six years since 1926 (the years 1946 to 1951 inclusive) has the retail price of butter been lower than it is now in terms of nominal wage rates. The retail price of butter has not been increased since 1st July, 1960. Butter is readily available in many retail stores at less than the maximum price.
y asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
No production quotas have been established for industrial margarine.
d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The Army has released portion of the Redbank Rifle Range to the Queensland Main Roads Department to permit the realignment of the Lockyer-Darling Downs Highway. This was possible since current Army firing practices on the range have been restricted to a distance of 400 yards only. There is, however, a continuing military requirement for the remainder of the property, which is used quite frequently for training purposes.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 April 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620412_reps_24_hor35/>.